These days are always the hardest. The birthdays.
Even now, at 45, I often feel 5. The still-feelings: the wondering and unknowing, the sense of loss, the heart-heavy sadness. They all still cling to me like a foul odor filling my senses no matter where I move. No matter how fast I move.
My ex-husband would get so irritated with me, my birthday blues, not understanding, me all grown-up now, after all. “How can you miss something you’ve never had,” he’d ask. I had no understanding either. No answers.
I missed my mother. My father. This day most of all. My birth day.
I’d wake all smiley excited, but in just a sleepy blink the wondering would seep in.
Does she remember?
I still wonder…
Does she remember this day? That moment? My coming into being.
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
Isaiah 49:15-16 (NIV)
For my 7th birthday Grandma gave me a new dress. Not a hand-sewn dress this time, but a real bonafide store bought dress. It was deep blue; the color of twilight, with white ruffled lace edges. A wide white sash bowed in the back. And not just a dress, but new shoes and matching lacy white socks.
I was so proud. And Daddy would be too, as soon as he laid eyes on me. As soon as he came.
As Grandma’s do she scrubbed me til I squeaked, dried me til I was as red as sunshine, then combed my long hair til I squealed. Top to bottom, inside and out, I was a brand new girl.
And Daddy was coming. And I beamed.
I stood in the big bay window watching, waiting. My heart leaped at the sound of each approaching car.
Early October brings cool, clouds, rain. I drew hearts and happy faces in the fog on that window, the fog my anxious breaths left behind.
But the images faded. Slowly dissolved. Disappeared. Except for a faint hint of a trace left behind you’d notice only when the sun slipped from behind a slow drifting cloud.
I waited. I shifted foot to foot. I “hawed” again and drew stars, flowers. I drew til Grandma coaxed me from the window. Til the sun quit showing itself, even for a moment.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
John 1:12-13 (NIV)
I don’t know how one misses something one has never had. But they do. I did.
These days, though a hint of sadness still lingers under the surface on the day of my birth, it slowly fades, leaving only a faint hint of a trace you can only see when I turn from the Light.
These days, I have a real bonafide understanding. I have new to replace the old. I am a brand new girl, inside and out.
I am a daughter of the living God. He who brought me into being.
He who never forgets.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:8a (NIV)