Anniversaries and Birthdays

If you thought this was going to be a recap of celebrations and fun, it isn’t. I apologize.

I am not usually one to fixate on dates and numbers, like which birthday it is or what happened ten years ago today or six years ago, or one. I can find a reason to celebrate almost weekly, but the specifics aren’t usually important. I love to celebrate life!

It started a few days ago. I saw a shirt in a store that reminded me of one she owned. I saw a sweater that reminded me of one I had loved as a teenager that she had washed and shrunk, causing an argument that was big and unusual.

It was a year ago tomorrow that I got the call after church that she had fallen and was being taken to the hospital. I knew that I had time to have lunch with my guys, this was not the first time I had been called.

It was however, the second year in a row I had had to excuse myself from the birthday festivities for my father in law. I think having milestones like his birthday to remind me of when this all happened makes it harder to escape the memories.

I got to the hospital before she did as I had expected, but as the day progressed, I knew that things were different.

The next day my phone buzzed incessantly at the hospital between having to discuss if she could survive surgery, what kind of surgery they could do and if we wanted her revived if the worst happened. Everyone looked to me for answers and decisions and I had nothing.

When my father finally asked why I kept looking at my phone, why was it vibrating so often, I looked at him with tears welling up in my eyes and told him that it was my birthday, something he hadn’t acknowledged in years.

His only response was “oh.”

I can remember the feeling of something not being right as I watched them get her ready for surgery in a dark and empty pre-op area. I remember asking the doctor if it was normal to start such a procedure so late at night and not believing her when she said yes.

I remember like it was yesterday escaping long enough to get a chicken sandwich after they rolled her away- it was the last food that didn’t taste like sawdust for the next few weeks.

It was eleven days from that chicken sandwich until my mother was gone. It was only 11 days, but it felt like it went on forever.

And now, today, although I try not to dwell on the memories, they are laying on me like a boulder on my chest. It holds me down as the memories wash over me again and again. It slowly pushes all of the air out of me as I try to escape the pressure.

I don’t know if I can fight the tears in the shower or the waves of sadness that sweep over me from nowhere. I am not sure what I am supposed to do right now.

It has officially been a year, I should be ready to move on. I am not sure if I am. I am not sure if I ever will be.

I am not sure if I should just give into the pain and memories one more time or try to push through the next few days with all of the plans that life has made for me.

I am not sure I have a choice.

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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.