Tomorrow is my birthday. I’m not dreading the day as much as I was a week ago. It seems as though with every milestone, the anticipation is much worse than the day itself. I wish Maya were here to celebrate with me. My birthday has always been a big deal. I start celebrating the first of May – the weather, the flowers, the summer just around the corner – it all makes me so happy. Now, this time of year has taken on a whole new meaning. This is the time of year when I was super pregnant and counting down the weeks until baby arrived. Mother’s Day, my birthday, the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, and now Maya’s birthday too all fall during this time that I once loved so much. It’s been really hard. I want so badly to enjoy this time of year, to look forward to my birthday the way that I always have, but it’s just so bittersweet.
If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a very reflective person. That sounds like I can be seen in the dark… haha! I reflect back a lot. I reflect on everything – the day’s science lesson, the interactions with colleagues, students, Hackie, family, friends. I’m always trying to think of what went well, what could have gone better, what I would do differently in any type of situation. So, on this day, my last day of being 27, I am reflecting.
I’ve thought long and hard all day – would I characterize this year as a good year? A bad year? Since my birthday is so close to Maya’s, I feel as though 27 will forever be remembered as the year I began the lifelong grieving of the loss of my daughter. But that doesn’t have to be all that defines this year. It’s also the year I started teaching science, went to Washington DC with Hackie, and developed some beautiful lifelong friendships. Most importantly, 27 is the year I became a mother.
I feel like I will always think of my life in two chunks – before Maya, and after Maya. 27 was my first “after Maya” year. I look at pictures of myself from life before Maya and I see someone so blissfully unaware, so innocent, and so naive. I have changed. In a way, 27 was the year of the new me – the new more compassionate, less uptight, more grateful me. Shortly after Maya was born, I went out to dinner with my mom. I was having a really hard time. I told her that I felt like my very strong confident self had shattered into millions of tiny pieces and I didn’t even know where to begin to put them back together. I learned early on that I have no control over that. Slowly, the pieces have come back together on their own, and though there are several still missing and many in different places, I like who I have become.
So I will not try to characterize 27 as good or bad. There were some amazingly wonderful things that happened and there was the worst thing in the world. As I leave this year behind, I am satisfied. I played the cards I was dealt, I grew as a person, I was kind, I said thank you, I did my best.
Maya should be here to celebrate with me tomorrow. It sucks that she is not here to greet me in the morning with her beautiful smile and take me out to dinner. She will be with me in spirit though – because she always is. Hackie is working hard to make sure that I have a good day tomorrow, and I am now looking forward to it. I am looking forward to 28. I am confident many good things will happen and so so so so hopeful that the most wonderful thing will happen and we will take home our rainbow. I so wish this is the last birthday I have to spend with no baby to spend my day with.
Will it be a bittersweet birthday? Absolutely. My birthday means that Maya’s is right around the corner and that’s just hard. I will make the most of it, as I always do. I will continue to grow and learn. I will strive to be better and do better as I continue to live for my precious baby girl.
Here’s to 28 – Happy Birthday to Me.