It’s days like today when I notice I miss my mother the most. It’s not the holiday itself — I am a Valentine’s Day naysayer — but her absence when it comes to the acknowledgement of the day.
I woke up today, warm and comfortable in my bed with my husband next to me and I was happy. I gave him a card, he pretended like he hadn’t ordered flowers to be delivered later in the day and we started our morning. It wasn’t until I hit the shower that I realised I wouldn’t be getting a Hoops and Yoyo card from mom in a week.
In one week I turn... the next age I turn. It will be the first time that my mother hasn’t made a big deal about it. Even last year, when she was still recovering from septicaemia, she was sure to send one of those silly ecards. My dad probably sent it since she was still in the hospital, but I know she reminded him. There it was when I opened my inbox that morning, offending my ears with its enthusiasm. She rang. She sent an email that contained too many exclamation points in the subject (doesn't she know that you should never use more than one, I would ask. Yes, she definitely knew. She just didn't care). She smiled over a Skype call even though she still felt like hell. My birthday was my birthday as it had been for, you know, however many years before that.
Now, it will be different. A few weeks ago I bet my friend Lane a box of Red Vines that my dad will only remember it’s my birthday when he sees it on Facebook. She said she would just send those along immediately. I really don’t blame dad for this. I find it funny, and a little heartwarming. If Gar died tomorrow I’d have no idea how to turn on the DVD player because that’s his job. I’d be forever trying to make the TV go to ‘the movie video game player thing’ channel with no success. We all have our roles and my mother managed my birthday and the fanfare she felt it deserved.
Outside of the big days, it feels pieces of her are everywhere. Good Wife — a show I have never watched — is going off air and I teared up a little knowing she would never see the end herself. (What will happen to that lady who was with George Clooney in ER and Mr Big? Why couldn't they wrap this shit up last May? The effing nerve.) I felt betrayed when Glenn Frey died because my mom was the world’s second biggest Eagles fan and he was taking her death-thunder, if that's a thing. (You, too, Bowie!) Too many songs, events, places and shows remind me of my mother for my days not to be coloured by her in some way.
So, I am wondering if it will always be like this? Will I always feel this pit-of-my-stomach absence when my wedding anniversary or birthday or Fourth of July comes around, or will I eventually just remember the time she gave us the nicest, softest, fanciest sheets we have ever owned for our first anniversary; or the July Fourth in 1991 she coloured different chunks of my braid with red, white and blue chalk even though she knew it would stain my sun- and chlorine-streaked hair? I want to remember the Halloween she made James the same scarecrow costume she made me when I was three instead of the fact that she will never be able to advise me on how to create a last minute costume with just some cardboard, paint and a glue gun, but I’m not sure if that will be possible come October.
And here I am on Valentine’s Day, with the two people who love me the most on earth, continuously clicking on the little envelope icon on my phone to check my inbox, waiting to hear two squeaky characters tell me they love me, just so I know my mom does, too.