To everyone who cheered me with birthday messages today, you make me feel so loved and cherished, and I want to reciprocate with eloquence and grace in all the ways you deserve.
I want to write you something beautiful.
I want to share glorious details and sing of epic days, but I don’t have the words right now.
They’ll be back though, don’t worry.
Right this second, everything is difficult and yet not somehow.
That said, I am functional. I am maintaining. Everyday I make “things I’d like to do today” lists and sometimes the chalkboard is full, and sometimes it only has “remember to eat” on it.
But I am eating and sleeping and reading and bathing and finding laughter without much trouble most of the time. For some reason, that makes me feel guilty. Like everything should stop, except that makes no sense.
I remember when my dad died. He used to love that big bang show and teased me about being smart and socially awkward, like the characters were kindred spirits to me. When he died, they didn’t cancel the show, which I thought incredibly disrespectful and I never watched it again out of some misplaced disgruntlement. Because it would be silly to expect everyone to quit their jobs and move onto something else that didn’t remind me that the world would continue regardless of how different everything now was.
Today was a good day. I mean, really, every day is a good day if we’re going to examine things through that lens. Every day has contains the opportunity to learn something new, to expand one’s perspective, to delight in the simplest of things that perhaps were never encountered before, or maybe that just were forgotten about for a time. I slept in and woke up to lovely texts from lovely humans, I had some good tarot reading fun with friends I care about though have never met except virtually, I made some sugarfree fudge that is actually pretty good, I got to dance tango and nap in the sunshine and spend most of my day not wearing pants, which is always a gift.
I also got a speeding ticket in the mail which is hilarious because I remember thinking when I did it that I’d never got a speeding ticket to date, and am about the same age as my mum when she got her first, and to my knowledge, only speeding ticket.
I remember the cop being taken aback at how readily my mum owned it, with a smile. Not just owned it, but embraced it. She didn’t try to talk him out of it, she didn’t bargain or wheedle. She accepted the responsibility and to a certain extent, delighted in the novelty of her brief walk on the wild side. I seem to recall her giggling through the process, much to my dad’s chagrin. I’m not saying that my mum didn’t get up to hijinx of all sorts before we were born, but the only part of her I saw during my childhood was the part who had made a conscious decision to stay sober, to be grounded, to be someone who did everything not only to keep her children safe, but raise them to understand how important it is to take responsibility for one’s own actions.
Of course when the ticket showed up today, I said pffft, as if I’m paying this. I’m going to fight it, obviously. But then I stopped and thought about it. I remember that moment. I remember the mood I was in, frustrated and weaving through traffic impatiently, convinced I was surrounded by idiots who were not considerate enough to get out of my way. The reality is, I was the inconsiderate idiot in that moment, and as humbling as it is to be charged idiot tax, it happens. And so I’ll take the lesson, I’ll learn from it, I’ll grow and slow the fuck down, remember to breathe, remember to smile and laugh at the novelty, pay the fine and move forward.
It’s really really weird to have a birthday without my mum, because obviously they wouldn’t be a thing without her. She made it fun, every time. She put thought and care and love and laughter into all the moments, momentous or not.
Just after the diagnosis, she told me on the phone that she hadn’t planned to make me an orphan in my 40’s, but that seems to be what’s going to happen. I said, “yeah it sucks in the bad way.” She laughed, agreed, and said, “I know it’ll be alright. I know you’ll be fine.” I responded, “yeah well that’s your fault.”
Yesterday morning I woke up to rainbows across the ceiling. I’d forgotten I’d hung one of her crystals I brought back with me from the curtain rod, it had become tangled in the drapes and vanished from sight and memory. But somehow it managed to work itself into a place where the sun hit it just right around 9am when I opened my eyes.
It was a good reminder of the colourful legacy she imparted, and her belief that I’ll be just fine. It reminded me how important it is that I continue her lessons of loving, being loved in return, and encouraging my creativity to flourish, my skills to improve, my feet and my heart to stay in equal measures light and grounded.
And so all the fantastic fun I am capable of, all the worthy I am of your affection and the reminder that you’re worthy of the reciprocation, all the laughter that is sincere enough to be contagious and light up the spaces it fills, all the good writing and bad choices that worked out somehow, the barefoot antics and comfort in my own skin, the ability to light it up and tear it down in the same weekend, all the cheerleading I will do for you until I am too hoarse to scream that I believe in you, all the times I will wake up and not even look at the clock before I take your call and not just hear but listen, the smile you can hear on the phone, the reminders to breathe, the drop of a hat roadtrips to be wherever I’m needed, the successes I didn’t see coming and the failures that hurt but never really stopped me cold, that is 44 years of learning, of preparing me for the next however many to come, from someone who taught me how to embrace life, not to meet it as though an adversary on a battlefield, but to engage with unreserved joy, unrepentant weird, unabashed hope that everything will work out.
I don’t know, it’s a mystery.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.