On this day last year, my sister and I left work early to attend a birthday party for our mom (today is her birthday). Thirty of her closest friends gathered together for the event.
There were champagne cocktails, and chocolate covered strawberries, and slices of rum cake.
It’s not the norm for my mom’s friends to throw large parties for her, but last year was different, because a few weeks before her party we found out that she had cancer. And a few days before, she’d had her first chemo treatment.
Now that we’re sitting on this side, it’s weird to reminisce about all that was happening one year ago today. Because before all of these milestones hit, it was difficult to even remember that it happened at all.
On occasion I’ll run into someone whom I haven’t seen in a few months. Their first question is usually “how is your mom?” This always takes me back a bit because she’s been well long enough that it feels like she never was sick.
I have to think hard to remember the times she was in the hospital when her white blood cells got too low, or the times I couldn’t call her up when I was having a bad day, because I knew her day was worse.
How quickly we forget. Or, how quickly we are glad to forget.
It really is a testament to the resilience of the human race. One year your loved one can have cancer, and the next, you can barely remember it. Though, there are physical reminders – her short hairdo, her once-a-month oncology checkups, her many acquaintances who stop to ask how she’s doing. But she herself has expressed a difficulty in fully grasping all that she endured last year.
Because hard times are graciously temporary. They suck, we learn our lessons from them, in time we heal, and then we move on, hopefully as stronger and better human beings.
If you read Get Rich Slowly, you may be familiar with the concept of social capital. JD talks about it every once in a while. Basically, it’s recognizing the importance of the real-life relationships and connections we have, and taking care to invest in others.
It’s an understatement to say that my mom is a social person, evidenced by the fact that A-Rob and I sent out 375 wedding invitations when we got married. Growing up, I took for granted her large group of friends. I was at times annoyed by it. Because it meant I had to help clean the house when she had one of her many get-togethers. It meant delivering fudge to all her friends at Christmas when I was a 16-year-old with better things to do. Selfish much?
But when she got cancer, guess what, all of those friends came around and helped carry her through. It’s a good encouragement to me, her introverted daughter, to not discount the importance of friendships and connections.
Today for her birthday my sister and I are leaving work early again. But this time, we’re just taking her to the movies.
Happy birthday mom!