Even though twenty days separate my birthday from my mom’s birthday, I always think of our birthdays as occurring together. Yesterday was her turn to be celebrated and like so many things since August 18, it was different. We mourned but we celebrated her for sure.
First, we mourned.
We mourned for her, the pain she felt and for the deep loss we are still feeling four and a half months after her death. We mourned because January 5 is just another reminder that our lives are forever changed and feel just a little more somber.
I also mourned for myself. I cried because I will never hug my mom on her birthday. I cried because I will always need and miss my mom. I cried because I am tired of grief. I cried because I so distinctly remember her birthday 55th last year like it was yesterday.
My dad, brother and I surprised her (as we liked to do a lot) and planned The Mary Brown 5.5 Mile Run/Walk/Bike Ride. With over 50 of her friends we covered 5.5 miles to commemorate 55 years.
But then we celebrated.
Yesterday afternoon, I got coffee with a friend. She knew it was my mom’s birthday so went out of her way to commemorate the occasion. She had a blue gift bag sitting on the table waiting for me to open as I sat down.
I pulled out a Diet Pepsi and cackled with laughter. My mom drank a Diet Pepsi everyday. Usually around 3:00 each weekday afternoon, my mom would leave her home office and drive to the gas station near the entrance of our neighborhood. Most instances she’d have exact change, grab her prized Diet Pepsi and carry on. It was her treat each day.
With tears clouding my eyes, I told my friend how my mom and I would banter about her Diet Pepsi habit. “Mom, it’s not healthy. It’s got aspertame and so many gross chemicals. Yuck.” She would turn to me and say, “Hey. I run and eat healthy. I don’t smoke. I can have a Diet Pepsi.” And that was that.
I remember a family trip we went on four or five summers ago. The four of us — with a few other families we’d never met — went on an amazing white water rafting trip along the Colorado River. We were camping by night and rafting by day. Each person could bring one food item in their pack for their own personal use. Most people brought beer, or some kind of treat.
My mom brought a six-pack of Diet Pepsi all for herself.
After I remembered all these stories, my friend and I each took a swig of the Diet Pepsi and said “Cheers!” to our Mary Brown.
Whistling: For amazing friends who cry with me, laugh with me, are patient to no end and know that a toast with Diet Pepsi is the best toast of all.