They always warn you about the firsts after someone dies.
The first Christmas. The first Mother's Day. The first birthday.
I didn't miss my mom on my birthday in May. But I missed my mom on her birthday today. August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. The day will always feel holy somehow.
My mom was named Mary.
We lost her last November. She was 86. She died during the night at the nursing care facility where she lived in the Alzheimer's unit. She actually died at 4:20 a.m., which was like a wave goodbye to us.
Our house was 420 Sycamore Street. We always called it 420. She always said she wanted to die at 420, so she kind of got her wish.
So yesterday I felt the tug to go back, to drive to Ravenna to the place where I said my final goodbye to her. Only there is no final goodbye when someone dies. You keep saying goodbye over and over. Just when you think you can't feel any more sad, it knocks you over like a wave you didn't see coming.
I sat at the cemetery marker, cut through the dry dirt with a plastic knife and planted some yellow mums and orange zinnias. Then I just sat on the grass as if she were there with me, and I sang Happy Birthday to her. It felt silly but it made me smile at the thought that wherever she is now, she would appreciate being remembered.
Then I drove to 420 and said hello to the house. The house that built me. And as I left, a glorious sunset waved a thank you for stopping by.