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Happy Birthday, Mom!

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Here’s a touching letter written by a son to his mother who passed away three years ago, leaving him bereft and lonely

Dear Mom,

shaamir mothe rgreyI remember the birthday we spent together three years ago. It must have been a few weeks into your chemo, but the scars of your struggle were now starting to show. For the first time in many years, you and I didn’t stay up late. For the first time, there was no birthday countdown and that childish, excited wait. For the first time, there was no birthday cake because no matter what you ate, your head would spin and you would be nauseated. It felt sad, having to celebrate your liveliness so quietly.

On the day of your birthday, I overslept. When I woke up, the first thing I did was sprint up the steps to your bedroom door. I imagined you would be sleeping, so I quietly pushed it open in the hope that I’d be the first face you would see, as you woke up on your special day. But as I stepped into your room, I felt this uneasy silence that I had for so long learnt to associate with gloom; experienced in the countless hospital trips that conditioned us to expect nothing but doom. I saw an empty bed, and felt a rush of blood to my head—something’s wrong. I knew that you couldn’t even walk straight without me by your side to take your weight. I could feel my hands shake; I could feel the insides of my head ache and throb and about to break. I called out your name, and I heard mine in return. I felt a sigh of relief as I immediately turned to where it came from.

As I pushed open the bathroom door, I saw you slouched against the wall. Trying to maintain a fine line between furious worrying and escalating dread, I just stood there with a million thoughts inside my head. You just looked at me, and smiled. Typical of you, you know? When you realized there was tension you couldn’t dilute, you always flashed a smile so adorably cute, hoping I would forget. For a moment I did. But I asked again.
You smiled once more. And then you spoke. In words I wish I remembered, so I could put them in quotes and do exact justice to how you saw things with hope.

You told me how it hurt to be a burden. About how on days that hovered between bad and worse, you felt like a perpetual curse that just refused to go away. You told me how you didn’t like it when you needed me to walk just two meters or even less;
how it made you feel so helpless, every single day. So on your birthday, you decided to
be different.

It hurts my heart to imagine how you swayed across the room to get to where you fell; but for that one day, living in hell made you feel a little more at ease, even if it meant falling to your knees, but at least you did it all by yourself. I didn’t know whether to smile or to cry, but the things you said were like invisible forces pulling me from both sides. I smiled back and heaved you up, as I walked you back to your bed. You were smiling, but your eyes were wet. I tried to give you the warm hug that you’d mastered over the years, one that so often helped my tears find a reason to change into something else. If only you knew how much I live that memory, even today.

Three years later, I celebrate your birthday the same way as you and I did back then. There is silence, and a quiet birthday wish in this letter; and an empty realization that things could have been so much better. What I miss far outweighs what I have found, but the balance would tilt so drastically if you were around. Today, I wish I could borrow your shoulders to keep my head; I wish I could kiss your warm cheeks and tell you everything I never said, instead of writing things you will never read unless heaven has a speed post service (which it desperately needs). What I would give to have you live not in memories, but somewhere real. Every second is now spent wondering how that would feel.

Anyway, this isn’t about my wishes, it is about how hard it is loving you from afar. I only wish I had words to define these feelings of mine with a beauty that I wish was half as perfect as you are. I hope you have fun there (for Heaven’s sake) and that God employs the best bakery to make your cake. Stay as lively as you’ve always been, remember to lick the icing from the bottom of the cake tin, just how you’ve always liked it.
Down here, Dad will raise a drink and we all will keep you in our prayers and think about the countless reasons you gave us to make happiness our own. We’ll keep missing you, even if we are three parts of a broken mess; and we will love you as things are,
nevertheless.

I miss you. I love you.

Happy Birthday.
Love,

Shamir

 

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