August 11th… my mommy’s birthday. This past week I searched for a birthday card just right for her—I must have stood in the greeting card aisles of Target for 30 minutes, scouring over dozens upon dozens of cards with messages like “may the next year be your best one yet,” and “here’s hoping all your dreams come true this year” and other similarly hollow sentiments if directed at someone who just lost the love of their life—whose life was just, essentially, shattered into a million tiny pieces no meager 4 months could put back together and whose coming year would be difficult and filled with firsts without. (first birthday without Edd, first cool morning of Fall without Edd, first holiday season without Edd, etc…)
So what do you say to someone on their birthday, your own mother, especially, when she’s lost so much?
I’ll never forget the call I got from Edd a couple weeks before Valentine’s Day this year. I hadn’t spoken to him on the phone since the cancer really started affecting his mind, and as soon as I hit “end call,” I burst into tears. He wanted me to go to Helzburg Diamonds and pick out something pretty for my mom, since he could no longer drive. He gave me a $500 budget, but said it’s OK if I go over. He was talking really slowly, carefully, stuttering a little, and it seemed hard for him to have to ask this of me. Of course, I didn’t mind a bit, but it was just so unfair, what this disease was doing to him. I knew in my heart it would be their last Valentine’s Day. And it was. Less than two months later, he was gone.
And today, on my mom’s birthday, I can’t help but think of how he would have done things, if he were here. He’d make her feel like the most important thing in the world. Invite us all out to dinner at one of the best restaurants in town, and say “Let’s celebrate. Order anything you want! We’re just happy to have you all here.” Edd really had a way of organizing his priorities—recognizing what’s important in life, and making sure you knew you were it (what’s important).
So on this day, I guess I just wanted to say, yes, Happy Birthday, for what that’s worth, but also that I’ve seen at least a glimmer of what you lost, and I know this year will likely be your hardest yet as you figure out what life will be like without this wonderful man in it. But never stop seeing yourself the way Edd did, and also, the way I do. You were and are loved beyond measure, and that has to count for something... that has to transcend even death. This next year of being alive—it will be hard, and we will miss him. But you’ll honor his memory, and go forward bravely, and live the life he would have wanted you to live… and there will be a kind of happiness mingled with sadness, but sometimes I think that’s the sweetest kind of all.