It’s very easy as a graduate student to get completely swept up in what seem like very important things: reading, studying, lesson planning, writing. My birthday, however, is a reminder to pause. Even if I haven’t been thinking about my mom consciously, it surprises me each year that she’s not here on my birthday. Each year, as soon as the clock turns to midnight, I become overwhelmed.
Part of it is frustration. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I spend a good deal of time lambasting Komen for the Cure and trying to avoid superficial attempts to raise awareness about breast cancer (such as this fine attempt by the one of the world’s largest porn websites). It’s frustrating to hear about raising awareness for a cause that already has so much awareness. To me, money that goes toward making people aware of breast cancer and finding a “cure” could be better spent toward preventative screenings or actually helping people with breast cancer—people who can’t afford the treatments or who can’t work anymore.
Sometimes, it’s just sadness.
For whatever reason, 25 years feels like a milestone year. My last milestone birthday was 21, and it was the last birthday my mom was with us.
My mom never managed to write “goodbye” notes for my dad, brother, or me. She started with my brother but only wrote a few lines. She did, however, write one for her best friend. Tonight, that friend was the first person to wish me happy birthday, and I can’t help but think that the message my mom wrote her rings a little truer:
Know as years pass-I’ll always be here in some capacity for you. You know how strongly I believe in that spiritual world where we can, in some way, reach out and still be a part of the lives of the people we love.
Even though it’s a message that wasn’t written for me, it’s one I think about and re-read often. A message that I appreciate even more on days like today when—in the midst of an already overwhelmingly busy semester—I’m reminded to slow down and take stock of the things that matter most.