My mom had a fantastic way of making people feel guilty for missing family events. She was also really good at holding a grudge so missing a party or a holiday event wasn’t really much of an option.
My mom passed away in 2011. Now every birthday, especially hers, and every holiday are filled with a somber feeling I can’t escape. She’s missing the cake, the outfits, the family drama. She’s missing the faces of her beautiful grandchildren as they open presents.
She’s missing it.
This year, I have to miss my nephews’ birthday party for a work event. And I’ve been feeling guilty since the day the date was announced. Is it that big of a deal? Will they even notice I’m not there? They are turning 8 and 6. I’m sure they’ll be consumed with their friends so why the guilt? Even though they are two hours away, I always try to make them a priority.
This year is different, and I finally get it.
My mom was too sick to attend my nephew’s first birthday party (her first grandchild). She passed away before his second. I remember her crying and never forgiving herself for missing his first party. I now realize that it’s not guilt I’m feeling. It’s want. I want to be there. I want to see their faces, I want to kiss their cheeks. They might not realize I’m not there. But I will know. And hopefully I’ll forgive myself and make it next year. Part of me thinks my mom knew she wasn’t going to make it to his second birthday, so missing the first was so heartbreaking, and now I get it. I hope to make their 9th and 7th birthday parties, but life isn’t guaranteed.