My mother’s birthday is swiftly approaching – April 8th. It will be the third I celebrate without her blessed and lovely physical presence. To state that I miss her would be the ultimate caldera of all understatements.
The month of April, in general, has been a particularly difficult month since that dreadful 365 days we called, 2011. My father passed away on April 10th of that year, my brother’s birthday is the 13th and my nonna passed away on my mother’s birthday, the first without her, the following year in 2012. It may seem silly to keep track of all of these significant dates, however, when they’re clustered together like so, it is difficult not to.
The fourth month of every year has become like “the holidays” for me – Joyful, special events meant to be happily celebrated near and dear those closest to you that have tragically morphed into morosely sad occasions due to deceased or estranged loved ones. My goal, since my mother’s passing, has been to keep her spirit alive through treasured memories and anecdotes I’ve stored away in these large troves I call the mind and the heart. As time moves on, the knowledge that she is gone does not become any easier but the ability to smile and celebrate in her memory and the time I gratefully had with her thankfully becomes more pronounced.
Though I somehow always feel as if I do not do her justice through my words, blogs, conversations, what have you, I’ll never stop trying. It goes without saying that I am often moved to tears amidst deep thoughts of her untimely absence but I recently found myself smiling, almost chuckling, at a distant, fond memory. There was a time when feelings of joy of any kind were seemingly impossible and in that endearing moment, as I drove, rounding the corner of my neighborhood, homeward bound, my heart blissfully burst with the startling recognition of her spiritual presence.
One invaluable virtue I have inadvertently attained from losing the most important person in my life after only twenty-six years is the ability to know that I can get through any roughage life carelessly throws my way. I can forcefully drive through any roadblock and I can gracefully leap over any hurdle. This I know because I’ve already faced what initially presented itself as the end of the world and I came out on the other end, heart still beating and oxygen still being inhaled. Basically, unless it is my own inevitable death, I will always live and it will always be okay.
Just last week, I was faced with an unexpected emergency that required my full and immediate attention. After a brief meltdown complete with the shakes, anxiety and bountiful sobs, I sat on my living room floor and calmed myself down and figured that shit out. I handled it in less than forty-eight hours and if I may say so myself, I was quite proud! I wouldn’t have been able to do it without a couple of my dearest friends, as well, and for this, I am sincerely grateful.
In my moment of initially unbearable weakness, I truly felt the support of my mama’s extraordinary strength. I heard her reminding me of my own inner strength, reminding me that I can do this and I will.
“It’ll all be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end,” She whispered. “One thing at a time,” I kept repeating her wisdom like a guiding mantra in my tormented mind.
No, I was not hearing voices – I just know, in my soul, in my heart, that my mama is with me, especially in those trialing moments where I feel as if I need her presence and unfaltering wisdom the most.
No, I unfortunately cannot take my mother to be pampered on her day of birth, I cannot light candles upon a scrumptious, homemade birthday cake that she will blow out with her own breath, and I cannot wrap a gift that she will tear open in anticipation. What I can do is keep her beautiful spirit alive. I can tell stories of her perseverance, her strength and the unconditional love she selflessly gave to those nearest and dearest to her amazing soul. I can assure my mother is known in her death as if she still walks the Earth. I can continue to be motivated by the drive to render my dear mama proud of her only daughter.
When I first heard this song, it was the spring of 2013. I immediately thought of the two people who created me and gave me life, followed by feelings of self-pity because I could never “come back home” as the lyrics described. Those sentiments have since been replaced by the valuable knowledge that my home is wherever my heart is, wherever I am capable of centering myself. And my heart is exactly where I have willfully held on to my parents. Like the memory of my mama that unexpectedly brought a smile upon my face, this beautiful song now brings me great comfort in times of missing both my mama and my dad.
With love, I dedicate “93 Million Miles” by Jason Mraz in memory of my immediate family, Colleen Denise Nelson (Dellinger), James Richard Dellinger and Jason Michael.