Today is your ninth birthday I’ve spent without you. Typing that feels beyond surreal to admit. I remember my last birthday with you. I was sick. So sick. I was afraid to eat food of any kind, yet alone birthday cake, and you insisted on getting me an ice cream cake from DQ. We watched reruns of one of the season of Bret Michael’s Rock of Love and I realized just how bad reality television could be. Along with that show I developed a taste for many of the other guilty pleasures that VH1 had to offer at the time. Even after you were gone, I found myself watching them. I also still watch Hell’s Kitchen and anything Gordon Ramsay. Thanks for that.
I write this to you today because it would have been your sixtieth birthday. Sixty. That too seems surreal to type. I’m not sure what would have been planned for your birthday, but a concert happened to fall on your birthday this year. Miranda Lambert. You remember her. I bought her first CD and made everyone listen to her because I thought she was absolutely amazing. She was not as big of a deal then as she is now and I cannot wait to see her in concert. I feel this is something you would have approve. Well, you wouldn’t have if you were still here, but I don’t think I would have gone to see her if you were still here either. I do like the idea of celebrating your birthday somehow all the same. And music seems beyond fitting considering half of my taste in music belongs to you.
If you were here, I would have been celebrating your birthday with or hoping you would want to see her as well. I’d like to think that Aunt Michelle would have plotted out something big by now. We would have been on the phone talking about reasons you needed to come down there and whatnot this weekend. I still see nanny alive and well and in attendance too for some reason. Sixty would have been a big deal. We would have made sure of that much. For some reason I could see Uncle Gregg leaving something in our yard. And unlike before with Prince, the dogs would have given away his appearance this time. Of course if you were still here I don’t see there being as many pets as there are now either. Probably just Cocomo.
I still think about you all the time. There is always something that makes me think of you, whether it be big or small. What they don’t tell you when you’re younger is how much your mom becomes your best friend over time. I guess that’s even more true when it comes to being an only child. Your parents are as much of your friends over time as the friends you make in various stages of your life. I miss being able to confide in you. I miss being able to talk to you about absolutely anything. And I miss having you as my cheerleader even though I do imagine you watching over me at times and lowering your head because of something crazy I’ve said but still smiling because you love my weirdness.
The other thing we are never told as children, and don’t worry this is nothing I feel you could have prepared me for, is that when losing a parent you really do lose a piece of yourself. Granted, my temper proves otherwise and sometimes I feel like when I talk you come right on out. There are many people who remind me that I’m more like you than not. I personally find that to be a good thing. Means I won’t get completely run over in life, even though there were times in the past I feel I have let others do more so than you ever would have. There are many fights I’ve taken up knowing that you would have and many moments that I’ve wanted your advice on, whether I would have liked hearing it or not.
Back to celebrating you today though. I know as soon as I hear Over You I’m going to bawl tonight. It’s not going to be pretty and while there is a part of me that hope she doesn’t sing that, I know she will. I’ve been trying to mentally prepare myself for it this week. This week filled with snow, but mainly ice. You would have absolutely hated this weather we are having. And lord knows you would have hated the twelve inches we got earlier in the year. But I digress a bit. I bring up Over You because there’s so much truth to that song. From the first moment I hear it on the radio I cried. The lyrics struck a chord in me that spoke so much truth about how I feel with you. While there are so many deaths I feel have been hard to get over, your death still affects me the most. I’m never going to be over losing you.
The hardest part of growing without you is realizing that all of the big events I dream will happen one day won’t have you there physically in attendance. The idea of ever having a wedding or having children is weird to me because I won’t be able to look out into the front row and see you smiling next to dad. There will be no one to ever call you Nana, as I’m assuming you would have wanted to be called because that is what Drew always called you. Whenever my name is on a book cover or across the silver screen you won’t be there pointing and saying, “That’s my baby girl.” And despite knowing that you are not in pain anymore and in a far better place than any of us I can’t help but think how much that sucks.
I’m glad you saw my graduate from college. I prayed from the moment you got sick that God keep you alive long enough to see my graduate. I knew that was all you wanted in life. To know for certain I achieved an education. And you were proud to know that I went the direction I wanted to go, even though at one point there were man directions I wanted to go. I still wonder what would have happened if I went the psychology route. The only thing I know for certain is that I think I would be able to speak better Spanish at this point because I’m positive that a foreign language was a requirement there. You were so proud of me and I remember hearing at your funeral from a family friend that he was glad to see that moment displayed because that was all you ever wanted in life.
Some of these words I have already revealed in a letter that I buried with you almost nine years ago come August. Also, Sugarland is coming the day you passed, which is really strange in my opinion. I’m taking it as a sign that the universe wants you to be celebrated something fierce for sixty. Either that or you’re putting some of my favorite performers in Atlanta on days you know I need to be able to let go of some feelings and just be. I’d like to think that it’s a little bit of both.
I write all this today though because I wanted you to know that I’ve finally really started living. I’ve decided that I need to kick my goals into high gear because I shouldn’t let my talents go to waste. I want you to know that I’m mostly okay. Yes, there are days where I feel crippled and that I cannot do anything else, but for the most part I’m okay. I love you. I miss you. And more importantly happy birthday mama. I’m going to do my best to continue celebrating you tonight and as long as I live.