Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Daughter At 50

My daughter’s birthday recently passed. She would have been 50-years-old this year, born in 1966. I thought it was a special occasion, even though she died 22 ½ years ago. And 1966 seems like an eternity ago. I wanted to do something to remember her on this special day, but realized I am content for now to reminisce on my own and feel her arms wrapped around me as we said goodbye the last time I saw her at her friend’s wedding.

I know of some bereaved mothers who have a party every year and invite the child’s friends. There is cake, drinks and a balloon release. Then they talk about what they remember. But that was not my style. So I did what I’ve done every year on her birthday. I went to the cemetery, cleaned off her stone and spoke a few words about how much I missed her and loved her. It makes me feel good to do this, as I am the only one who is left in our family that is able to.

As I approached the plaque in the ground this year, I realized someone else had also been there. There was a huge stone sitting on the top signifying to me that someone else also remembered this special day and wanted everyone who passed by to understand that. You can’t imagine how good that made me feel, even though I don’t know, and probably never will, who it was that was there.

This quiet cemetery allows me to go back in time, to remember all the good times—and there were so many—that we had and to tell her what I’ve been up to. She loved traveling, and so do I. I tell her we went on a cruise to the Baltic countries this summer, although I know she died before she could travel there. Last year I went to a Greek Island that was her favorite and tried to immerse myself in the culture to see what she loved so much about it. I discovered it was special in Crete. There is one thing I do when I travel—I take her with me in one form or another. It could be a necklace I wear with her picture on it, or her favorite ring. And at each stop, if there is a beautiful church or synagogue, I go inside and light a candle for her or just say a prayer.

She also loved people, particularly all her friends, and they in turn loved her. When she died I received hundreds of letters and notes about how she was the glue that held everyone together, that she was a kind and thoughtful soul that helped others when needed, that she was a free spirit, and that when she found the person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, she was content and happy. All parents would like to know this of their child, and I was lucky enough to have that knowledge.

I think that if I called some of her friends and shared special moments, pictures, and reminisced about her short life, they, in turn, could also share what they remember. That would make this birthday very special. Perhaps one day soon I will do that.

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