337 days or 11 months and 2 days

Today is my birthday, something my girls always made special. In fact, my birthday, Mothers Day and believe it or not, Fathers Day were 3 days that they took it upon themselves to go out of their way for me, make me feel even more special then they already did on a daily basis. And even at a young age, they teamed up and conspired for me, finding their way through making us all dinner and then a beautiful birthday cake. It was beautiful to watch as well as receive. As they got older, they would tell me I wasn’t allowed back in the house until a certain time so they could accomplish whatever they were up too and each year the meals and the cake became more elaborate (and more tasty J ). Most years they made my card too. As a mom, it just doesn’t get any better than that. Quality time and knowing you are completely loved and appreciated.

This morning, as I was mindfully moving through a process I call the “4-A’s” (related to moving through grief, see below) that I knew I was going to have to go through today (this is to show myself that I am, in fact, making progress. I never want to remain stuck!), I decided to honor Sydney by wearing one of her last gifts to me. Last Christmas, she and I went out shopping for the gifts she wanted to purchase for people. She was always very thoughtful about this and had specific things in mind for everyone. We had to do some searching but it was a successful and fun adventure. Then, when December 24th came and she was killed, everything stopped. I packed a bag and left our house and only went back again to pack to move. When we finally got to the point that we could unwrap the gifts that were under the tree to determine what to do with them, I found a box wrapped with my name on it. I took a deep breath and unwrapped it. In this box was the last few things she touched and found special for me. Everything in the box was so perfectly “me” and Sydney knew it. She was such a love. So, I took the shirt that says “Sunday is for Snuggling” , which is also my favorite color! (I tried wearing it once before but it was just too soon) and am wearing it today. It may sound silly, I mean it’s only a shirt, but it’s the principal and the significance behind what it stands for between her and I.

So this year, being a year of firsts, doing things without Sydney by our side or conspiring for us, has had its ups and downs. Today is my first birthday without her. Today is the first “mom’s birthday” Aubrey is left without her sister, or partner in crime, to conspire. We will survive! We are finding new ways together, sharing her love, memories and energy, to move forward on days like today but I think I speak for both of us when I say there is a hole or numbness. Perhaps that is grief’s way to protect us as we go through the steps of acknowledgement, absorption, adjustment then acceptance (4-A’s). What I have come to realize is that for EVERY first, you go through the 4 A’s. It’s not just a once and done process. So I think that for todays first, we have absorbed the reality, are adjusting and moving through the day by feeling gratitude and love. Before we close our eyes at the days end, we will have reflected on how blessed we all are by Sydney having been in our lives and now to have her watching over us…. and with that, “acceptance” will once again have taken us.