Today is Mom's birthday. Had she not succumbed to emphysema, she would have been celebrating her 73rd birthday later today, going out to lunch with Dad and her twin sister and my uncle Red and Kim and Susan and me, talking and laughing and enjoying the day in the way that we always did.
When Robert E. Howard's mother died, he took his life shortly thereafter, denying the world all the wonderful tales he might have written in the remainder of his life had he not cut it so short. I can understand how he spiraled into such an inconsolable darkness that he felt it could not end; while I have not plummeted to such an abyss of spirit, I think I have been buffeted by the ebbs and flows of depression ever since Mom died. Losing her left a void that none of us have been able to fill.
As I watch videotapes of bygone happy times, I regret the fact that Mom was almost always the photographer and rarely the photographee. She loved to work the video camera, and Dad never seemed that interested, so Mom is the unseen voice in most family videotapes. On days like this, I watch those tapes, knowing I won't see her, but also knowing that I will at least hear her voice once again.
I miss that voice so much. I spoke to Mom almost every day of the last ten years of her life, and spoke to her several times a week in the many years before that. I knew her phrases, her responses, her words, and I fear that I took them for granted. I guess I never really considered that they would be silenced so soon.
As bittersweet as Mom's birthday is for me--and as sad as I still am about her death--I know that it must be immeasurably worse for Dad. A lot of people are happily married, but Dad was more than that--he had found the woman who balanced him, whose strengths complemented his, and around whom he had built his life. He is surrounded by memories of those happy times, and I can understand why also slides into emotional shadows as her birthday nears.
Happy birthday, Mom. I miss you.