I gave birth to my first child on this day in 2007. She came into this world at 11:20pm on 11/20, pretty neat…
Then on this day in 2016 I lost my mother.
Yes, I lost my mom on my daughter’s birthday. If only the time on this day two years ago was 11:20pm but in fact it was early morning.
We rushed back to the Hospital after receiving a call and by the time we made it into my mom’s room, she’d passed from her 11 week fight with Ovarian Cancer. I remember looking up at the clock immediately as my daughter had said the week before she just hoped Grandma wouldn’t die on her birthday. Wouldn’t you know it; it was 1:15am on November 20th.
I had the entire early morning wearing my “daughter hat” to grieve the loss of my mother with my sisters, their husbands, my father (even though they split when I was 19) and my mom’s partner of 13 years. My emotions were all over the place, missing and loving my mom and knowing that I had to or maybe I didn’t have to tell my daughter that her grandmother had passed away, in fact on her birthday.
I headed back to my home with my younger sister and her husband after saying our goodbyes in the hospital. My husband was there to embrace me as I entered as he’d stayed back to be with our kids. We grieved together and discussed what we were going to do, what do we say to our birthday girl? I wasn’t sure I wanted to say anything, thought maybe I’d say that Grandma passed away the night before on the 19th, or wait till after her celebration. It was her birthday after all and truly the only thing she asked for this year was that Grandma NOT die on it.
What’s a mom to do? Can you even celebrate a birthday when your Mom…your Mother… has just died? The answer I came to was yes. The answer became clear as soon as I asked myself what my mom would want, what would she do? And I know there is no way she would want us to ruin her granddaughter’s birthday. If my mom was here, she wouldn’t want everybody to be sad, she would ask that we suck it up and carry-on to celebrate her granddaughter.
So, everybody who was at the hospital early that same morning came back to my house in the afternoon. We all got together and put on our “Aunt hats”, “Uncle hats”, “Grandpa hats”, “Mommy hats” etc. and made it a wonderful day for my mom’s granddaughter or as wonderful as it could be.
But yes to break the news to your daughter that her grandma in fact did die on her birthday, even though she prayed for it not to, was a difficult one. I’d spent that morning writing her a letter. Then I picked her up from her dad’s place and drove to the local pier so we could watch the water and waves crashing ashore. I always found solace in this location and was looking for some on this day for both of us.
As soon as I put the car in park she knew… Into the front seat jumped my daughter who embraced me with a hug that felt so familiar, her eyes full of tears. I presented her with the letter and shared that I didn’t know why Grandma was taken away on her birthday and that the only thing that made perfect sense was that she wanted to give you a birthday gift. The gift of forever your guardian angel.
I still wonder today if I should have told my nine year old daughter that Grandma passed away on the 19th. As last year and even this year again there seems to be a bit of a gray cloud over her birthday.
I wish it wasn’t there but it is and probably will always be.
It is what it is though, you pick up the pieces and move forward, such is the journey of life.
Happy 11th Birthday to my 11/20 Daughter
Wish you here to see her Mom