On celebrating death

In a few weeks our family will be faced with the dreaded anniversary of my mom’s death. The last year has been exhausting, confusing, and healing all in one. We have cried and we have laughed. Time has done that strange thing it does, where the wound closes just enough to allow you to live, but never enough not to leave a scar.

Shortly after my mom passed away, it would have been her 50th birthday. We had a balloon release party for her, early on the morning of that day. The children and I, along with my dad wrote her notes and tied them to teal balloons, the color of cervical cancer, then released them to her in the sky.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the upcoming anniversary date. Wondering how our little family can honor Nana, on the day she left this earth and entered into heaven. It feels strange to call it a celebration. Not quite a day to party. Right?

At first I said, “No, no way, we won’t have a party on that day!” But then I got to thinking. What if, what if we did have a party?

Why can’t we celebrate the amazing legacy she left us – the wonderful memories we have? Who is to say we can’t honor her journey to heaven, knowing that though we’re here heartbroken, she’s no longer sick or in pain?

That’s when I decided to do it. To have a Heaven Day, a day where we celebrate this amazing woman. A day that we honor her.

We will make waffles using her recipe, and bake a cake (a favorite past time between my mom and middle son). We will write her notes, and head to a local pond to feed the ducks (one of the kid’s most cherished memories with her).

Will we cry? Likely. Will we grieve? Of course. But we will also smile, knowing we’re keeping her alive in our hearts. We will remember and we will laugh and we will love her as fiercely as we did when she was here in our presence. We will celebrate because we know she’s in the most amazing place. We know there is grace and love and forgiveness. We know there is healing and acceptance. We know we will see her, again.

The kids are overjoyed with the idea, and I feel immense relief that I’ve been able to come up with a plan, a way to honor and love my mama. Our Heaven Day is on October 28.

Since losing my mom I’ve made some wonderful new connections-turned-friends. Other motherless daughters, fatherless sons, widows, and mamas grieving children gone too soon.

Is that you, as well? I hope that if you are nearing a difficult anniversary such as the one we’re facing, maybe you too can see it in a new way.

I hope you will see a tiny light in an otherwise dark day. If that’s you, my love and thoughts and prayers go with you.

Cheers to celebrating death, cheers to celebrating life.

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