Friday, June 3, 2011

"When I'm 64": Happy birthday, Mom

The Beatles song has been going through my head all morning (punctuated by rooster crows), because today would have been Mom's 64th birthday.

It has been 2 and a half years since she died, and we do something to commemorate her birthday each year.  What has been striking to me, with both of the after-death celebrations, is that these days of remembering her are just a formality.  She's remembered daily.  Talked about daily.  And we are making major, sweeping changes in our life in honor of her - not related to a red-letter day on the calendar. 

I am writing this from a campsite in the woods, sitting on a cot in a tent, where I'm living with my family for three weeks.  We have no home in the foreseeable future, because we'll be traveling until September. Last night, Steve and I sat around the campfire talking about whether we might long-term camp next fall, when we get to Williamsburg.  Camp until the weather turns, then move into a hotel?  He's only at William and Mary for a year, then we'll be moving again.  Shouldn't we make it interesting? 

That appears to be the theme of this family.

And the reason this is the theme is the 24 hour drive home from Mom's funeral, when Steve and I talked (and talked and talked) and decided to make our lives radical, soul-inspiring, creative, and full of memories.  That in the end, what I really had of my mom was all those memories she'd stacked up in our time together.  They meant more than anything to me.  They managed to plug the holes of loss in a way I couldn't have ever imagined.  She knew she had a shorter time period in life, due to her Muscular Dystrophy, so she didn't wait to do things.  Not just travel, but all types of experiences.

So that's what we were going to do with our family, we decided on that drive.  We were going to live deliberately and make our time count.  We weren't going to worry about what was normal or comfortable.  We were going to do what clicked for our family.

And here we are.

The children drew greeting cards for you, Mom, and we'll have a special birthday picnic and talk about you.  But it is a drop in the bucket of how your life - and your death - has shaped this family into a truly amazing life adventure. 

No words can describe how much that means to me.