A Birthday Letter – one day early

Mother’s 61st birthday is tomorrow, February 13, 2013.  She always wanted to be the first person to wish us a Happy Birthday as well as give the first gift.  So, in Judy King fashion, here is a very special birthday letter to her, a day early.

Happy Birthday Mom!

I know this may seem odd writing a birthday letter, but I feel the need to do it.  The desire to do things to honor you is still very strong.  The grief still sneaks up on me when I least expect it; the reflexive reach for the phone is a very hard habit to break.  The longing for your advice still makes my heart ache.  Thinking about where we were this time last year is extremely difficult especially because your birthday and the date of your death are so close together.  Your birth and your death are linked together for me in such an existential equation.  Maybe it is because I need to be reminded that in order for me to honor you after your death, I should realize how greatly I should be living.  Not existing.  Living.

How am I doing that?  Well, it is definitely a process.  Throughout the past year,  I have honestly tried to recall your wisdom, advice, and our special times together in order to continue the legacy you started with me 36 years ago. This blog has been therapeutic in that aspect.  It is also a concrete way for me to share with others, especially Will and Charlotte, how much you impacted our lives.

Speaking of the grandchildren. . . You wouldn’t believe how much technology is playing a role in our household.  Charlotte can navigate the ipad better than I can.  Will knows more tricks on his ipod than I will ever figure out in a lifetime.  I have a hard time knowing how to integrate all of this in our day to day lives.  You always warned me about laziness.  You hated it.  I hear myself saying the same thing to Will.  You and I had our biggest fights over my clothes and what I was going to wear to school or church.  Guess what?  Charlotte is paying me back big time for that!  Both of them still thank God for you every night in their prayers.  I wish you could see them now. Maybe you can.  I think about that every day when I go to hug one of them, and they always feel a little taller or seem to be much older than just the day before.

I have thought a lot about how I want to spend my time on your birthday tomorrow.  I want to celebrate and remember the things you loved.  You loved your family.  You loved your God.  You loved fresh flowers.  You loved desserts.  You loved shopping.  You loved making people feel special.  You loved your small town of Easley.  You loved.  You loved.  You loved.  You loved.  And people loved you right back!  This love was as central to your personality as was your uncanny ability to make friends anywhere. I can’t go anywhere and someone not say hello to me because they knew YOU.  I am so proud to say I am your daughter.

Okay.  So what to do on your special day?

  1. Definitely drink a hazelnut latte from Starbucks, your favorite.
  2. Visit a few of our favorite shops on Augusta Road.
  3. Go by the Fresh Market and hopefully find some of your favorite flowers – lilies or daisies.
  4. Hug Daddy.
  5. Call a couple of your closest friends.
  6. Wear your jewelry.  ( I do that every day already.)
  7. Listen to some of your favorite music.
  8. Go see your dog, Bentley.  He loved you so much.
  9. Let go of any bitterness I may be holding on to about your cancer.  (That’s a tough one, Mom)
  10. Stop by City Hall and see everyone.  They loved you so much, and they were so good to us when you were so sick.
  11. Cry a little but mainly tears of joy
  12. Celebrate life.  Celebrate the 36 years we had together.

There is quite a large void without you here.  I know the only thing that can fill it is love only our heavenly Father can give.  Some days I try to fill that void with other things, and then I think of the advice you would give me.  You would never judge me.  You would definitely understand, but I know you would sweetly tell me to “get it together” in your sweet, southern charmed voice.  I am learning that “getting it together” is a series of choices we make daily.  It is not a place we obtain and stay there until we die.  Some days I fail miserably, but I am keenly aware that God is willing to meet me and pick me up wherever I am if I am willing to receive his help.

You always said it best when you ended every letter and card. So in the classy style of the most beautiful Mother in the world, I want to end your birthday letter the same way you always ended mine. . . .  “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”

Happy Birthday Mom,

Your Amy

How we love our big sunglasses!

How we love our big sunglasses!