Mom would've been 55 on Monday.
On her final birthday, in 2007, we took her out for coffee. It was the morning after my brother's wedding. We were all together, we were all happy, we were all coming down off the high of the previous day.
We gave her a necklace. A heart with four pearls inside, the pearls representing her two children, her son-in-law and her new daughter-in-law. The heart representing her.
It was a simple birthday. The real gift was spending time together because we didn't live nearby. When someone you love is fighting for their life on a daily basis, you realize how pointless grand gestures and materialistic gifts are. How insignificant baubles are compared with time.
The ocean was to Mom what that heart necklace symbolized to us: comfort, protection, love, solace. Her ashes reside there, as well as a bit of her presence.
Our family of three heeded the call this weekend to celebrate Mom's birthday. We drove our stuffy noses and sore throats to Malibu, to the rocky shore where the high-tide waves were crashing in tall and powerful. We climbed down the cliff, passing Alexa between us when it got too steep.
And we sat down to watch the waves. To hear the waves babble between the rocks as the tide ebbed and flowed. To think about what has happened in the past five years.
Mom, you have two granddaughters now. Both of your children are happily married. Your husband is doing well, always up for a new adventure!
You are missed, more than it's possible to put into words.
I feel your presence every day. When something great happens to us, I want to call you. When Alexa bumps her head, I want to seek your medical advice. When Alexa hits a milestone, I want to brag to you. When I have a bad day, I want to confide in you.
So I do. Maybe that's a bit crazy, but I tell you these things in my head. I write about you on this blog. I keep tabs on our family for posterity's sake, yes, but also for you. This is the family blog you always wanted us to keep but we could never manage to get right while you were here.
Happy birthday, Mom. We love you.