It's late, the wee hours of a Monday that begins a week I'm dreading a bit. The Steelers won a Superbowl in which I had little interest. No one I knew was having a party, so I spent the evening curled up in my oversized leather chair watching a game I cared little for.
I turned 35 on Thursday. Not a "milestone" birthday, like 30 or 40, but more important than 34 was or 36 likely will be. Truth be told, it was disappointing. On Friday night I met some friends for dinner at The Pub. It was a small group of seven of us, and it was a nice time. But it was noisy and so crowded that you felt guilty for staying any significant length of time. Saturday I only left the house to buy dog food and Sunday Dale cooked breakfast for us. It was low-key, if not boring, weekend.
Tonight as I lay in bed reflecting on the weekend, I wondered why this birthday felt so subdued. It wasn't because I didn't have a party and it wasn't because there weren't gifts (Liz got me gift cards for Bonefish and iTunes). If you can picture a kid left at summer camp having a hard time adjusting suddenly bursting into tears sobbing, "I miss my mommy," that might sum up how I feel.
On my birthday, I miss my mother. When I was a baby, I'm sure my mom reached down and put her finger into my hand and I squeezed it, much like Dale's niece Katelyn squeezed my finger last week. As I look at my hands, I wonder if my mother knew that my little hand would grow big and eventually wipe away tears shed for her. Probably not; I seem to be the only person morbid enough to harbor those kinds of thoughts, and they're probably better kept to myself. But tonight I can't seem to do that.
I remember looking at my mom's hands during the summer of 2007, as she was dying of cancer. I noticed her middle finger was crooked and I then looked at my hands and noticed my middle finger was crooked, too.
"Look, Mom, we have the same hand," I told her. My mom took my hand in hers, for one of the last times and said, "That makes me happy."
It makes me happy too.