Happy Birthday


Today is my birthday. 

Today is my 18th birthday, and you’re not here to celebrate it with me. 

As I sit here on my birthday, pen in hand, my tiny notebook in my lap, an unusual cloud of confusion fills my mind. The words Dear Mommy take up a small corner of the page, my birth date on the other. The rest of the page is a vast, blank void. I usually have so much to say, so many words to spill out onto the pages, yet today the pen slips through my trembling fingertips and onto my bed. I have such an urge to fill these pages, and an equally strong feeling to throw my notebook across the room. Taking a shaky breath, I think about the words I so desperately wish to share… 

Today is my 18th birthday and I should be happy, but how can I be happy when you’re not here? How can I celebrate such a huge milestone in my life, my transition to adulthood, when you can’t even see it?  

Why do I write these stupid letters when I can’t even send them to you? 

It has currently been about a year and a half without my mother. I’ve experienced two Mother’s Days, Hanukkah, and even my 17th birthday was manageable. But today… today the air is filled with an emptiness that I haven’t felt in a long time.  

I am not a child anymore, and I want my mom to see that. I want to see her smile and hear the words “I’m so proud of you.” I want to give her the biggest hug in the whole entire world. But this urge, this yearning, this desperation won’t get me anywhere. There is nothing I can do about the fact that she has passed, and this creates a deep, forever-aching gash in my heart. Even when time passes and that gash begins to heal, my mind goes back to those moments I shared with my mother and the wound opens up all over again.  

My mom was almost always home, even before she got sick. I could always go into her room and share the newest gossip, or cry about silly things. Her words were a safety net I could reliably fall into. Even if she was mad at me, I would think back on it later and realize how right she was, how I was getting so upset over something so stupid. Her words would wipe those tears right off of my face and make me hold my head up high. I didn’t have to go around telling everyone about everything in my life; I had my mom. She was my rock, my safe haven, she was my home.  

Now, I feel like I’ve been searching so hard to find this kind of person – someone who I can love so unconditionally that it would fill all the nooks and crannies that have formed in my heart after losing her. There is a part of me that is pulling towards a person that is only a figment of my imagination, disappearing by the second. I have spent endless nights sobbing in my bed, leaving me calling every person I know and wishing someone would answer me, comfort me, love me the way that she did. But many times my calls go unanswered, and many other times those I call don’t even know what to say. My words and my cries fall upon deaf ears, and all I’m left with is that same heavy, despairing feeling that I’ve had ever since I heard the words “She didn’t make it”

Every single day my heart aches with loss. I want my person back. Everywhere I go and everyone I see is a flash of my mother. I wish I wasn’t this lonely, that I wasn’t this desperate for a bond as strong as her and I’s, maybe even stronger. But here we are, and what can I do about it?  

However, at times like these, I recall that my mom always told me that everything happens for a reason. I’ll find someone soon, at the right time and the right place. Not a replacement, for no one could ever replace the bond my mom and I had. I’ll find a new person who is special in their own way. Even if it takes a little longer than I would like. Because I know that once I find that, it will be amazing and wonderful and my heart will burst with joy because love is beautiful.  

After letting all of these words flow onto the pages of my tiny notebook, word after word after word until my hand cramps, I take a moment to sit and just breathe. I just breathe as the tears flow down my cheeks and silent sobs form in my chest.  

I miss you so much, and I love you more than you will ever know. But I’ll be okay. Everything will be okay. I know you’ll always be with me. 

Maryn Ascher is a first-year student majoring in Forensic Science from Long Beach, New York. In addition to writing, she also has much interest in the performing arts and is involved with DanceWorks and The Ballet Club on campus. She is very grateful to be able to share her story with her fellow Syracuse students.