Monday, April 25, 2011

Maybe you should have just named me Cordelia. But I'm glad you didn't.

April 25th.

Today would have been my mother's birthday. She would have turned 47.

April 25 was one of the first dates I ever learned to remember. I remember when I was little, I asked my mom one year how old she was, but I had already forgotten when her birthday came around again the following year and she had refused to tell me her age again. Of course, eventually I just remembered her year of birth and calculated from that whenever I lost count. I teased her when she hit 40. And then I stopped writing or mentioning her age, even though I would secretly tell my friends because then they would be impressed at how young my mom was.

I also made her a card every year, and she would stick them on the wall, just above her bedpost, or on her bedroom door. I had a phase during my early teenage years when I really liked to do amateur graphic design, so I would make tacky graphics on Adobe Photoshop and print them out for her... she liked those too. After I went to university, her birthday would always fall in between my final exam period, but I would still go shopping for her birthday present without fail.

It's a special feeling, shopping for your mother. There really are limited ways you can give back to your mother for all that she's done. Shopping for her gift always served as a kind of activity in which I could reflect on how thankful I was to her, and how I really can't give back anything that would be enough to match what she's given me all these years. That is, life itself, and unconditional love.

Facebook decided to remind me that it was my mother's birthday today, too. Seeing her name on the side bar after midnight, I clicked on it. I was one of those kids that kind of enjoyed having their parent on Facebook--I thought having a mom that knew how to use the computer and even had Facebook was pretty cool. Even though she never really used it. Her profile today is the same as always, void of activity except for me and my aunt wishing her a happy birthday every year. In 2009, I sent her "lots of love". In 2010, I asked her if she was using the bag I gave her--ah, that's right, I sent her a handbag by mail for her birthday last year.

I don't know why I do this to myself, looking to breaking my own heart over and over again, doing stuff like looking at her Facebook page, at our past messages to each other, our emails... it's a shame we don't really have pictures together. It's probably my fault. I was a rebel child until the end, reluctant to even say "I love you" most of the time. Even though I did love her so very much... I just couldn't put it into words. Why is it always so hard to say what you mean?

When she lay in bed at the hospital during the last few days of her life... I kept telling her, I love you, I love you, I love you. As if I could make up for all those times that I didn't say it to her. For all those times she wanted to hear it, but I had foolishly valued my own pride over a few very simple but powerful words. If perchance she had been happy to hear those words from me towards the end of her life... why had I not given her many more days of happiness before that, when I could have easily done so?

Only my mother would ever forgive someone as twisted and ugly as I am. And so she did, many, many times.

But this kind of unconditional relationship doesn't exist anymore for me, not in this world. I am only left with memories of such an incomparable love, and all I can do now is to keep these memories close. It breaks my heart every time I think of it and regret continues to tear at me (as it should), but I don't ever want to forget. I mustn't forget. I can only remember.

April 25, in remembrance of my beloved mother. Happy Birthday, Mommy.

I love you.