Today, 10th January, is always one of the hardest and weirdest days of the year for me.
It’s my mum’s birthday. Birthdays of those no longer with us are always bittersweet.
I am always thankful for this day because it means my mum was born, and all that came after that, including me.
I’m sad because she’s not here for it. This is the third birthday without her. I miss her every day, not just on birthdays.
The sad truth is Mum’s birthdays stopped being something we could fully celebrate fourteen years ago. That was the day my brother, Darren, died.
Yes, that’s right, my brother died on my Mum’s birthday. He died by suicide.
None of the family bore him any ill will for dying on Mum’s birthday. Darren was in such a desperate state he probably hardly registered what day it was. It did, however, make my Mum’s birthday a difficult day to deal with. Do we celebrate or forget it?
We did what we could. Mum always got presents and cards. We tried to make her feel special. Often we’d do something before her actual birthday. No matter how we tried that particular date was a tricky one to be celebrating the beginning of life when another had ended, no less a woman’s son.
Imagine how surreal it is the give your mum a gift and then a bunch of flowers to show you had remembered the death too. Now it’s become even more weird.
My mum’s ashes are interred in my brother’s grave. I’m sure those who stop to read headstones must look at that date, 10th January, and find it strange to see it twice; once as Mum’s date of birth, the second as my brother’s date of death. Seeing it always makes me feel like I’m losing the ability to breathe.
Today, as with last year, there’s no Mum to make feel better about acknowledging her birthday. She always felt guilty about it. I understand why.
January is a difficult month for many. Having 10th January makes it hard for me.
As soon as New Year’s Day approaches the dread forms in my gut. I know the difficult date is coming.
I have made it through so far. I know I will get through it again.
Today I celebrate life and mourn deaths of those I love.
Today is about two deaths and a birthday.