June 8th is/was my mother’s birthday. I still say is because that’s what this date will always bring to mind for me first. My mother loved celebrating birthdays, not so much her own, but everyone else’s. Birthdays were always a huge deal and had to be celebrated as such.
Ironically, it was on my birthday when cancer first slithered into her life and therefore into mine as well. Cancer was the uninvited intruder at my birthday party a few years back.
I wish I had more photos of my mother on her birthday. I wish I had more photos of her period.
June 8th is also the date my parents were married. I’ve always thought it was sweet they chose to get married on my mother’s birthday. I love looking at old photos of them on their big day. Again, there aren’t that many, so this makes the ones we do have all that much more special.
When I look at this photo of my parents on their wedding day, I wonder what they were thinking about. One thing I’m certain of, it was not breast cancer, something they’d be facing together years down the road.
Fast forward to June 8th, 2012, another special day in my immediate family. It was the day Dear Daughter and Dear Son-in-Law chose to tie the knot. The fact they chose this particular date of family significance says a lot about their thoughtfulness. I can’t thank them enough. Choosing my mother’s birthday for their wedding date was like having Grandma there. I wrote about a tale of two weddings in June in case anyone likes going down someone else’s memory lane.
I was worried about my emotions on Dear Daughter’s wedding day. What mother of the bride isn’t? Admittedly, my emotions were all over the map. But I did just fine. Even if I hadn’t, that would have been okay too. It might have been awkward, yes, but still okay.
So often, we think we must guard our true feelings. We feel some occasions should be all one way or the other, emotionally speaking.
Happy times must be happy. Sad times must be for sad. Emotional divisions must be maintained. We fear crossing emotional boundaries and sometimes work really hard at keeping our emotions in check.
We worry we might look vulnerable if too much emotion seeps out, overlaps, gets mixed up, or doesn’t conform with whichever one is expected at any given point in time.
We risk losing out on the fullness of an experience when we do this. We risk losing out on the richness of life.
People are complex. Many experiences are complex. Emotions are complex too. We don’t need to worry so much about keeping them in their proper box.
It’s okay to be sad for moments during a joyous celebration like a wedding (or any happy occasion) as we remember, think about and miss the loved ones who are no longer with us. It’s okay to cry. Or not cry.
Likewise, it might be perfectly appropriate to smile, chuckle or even laugh out loud when attending a loved one’s wake or funeral.
Allow yourself the gift of feeling the full range of your emotions on any given day, but especially during those big moments of life and yes, death too.
From here on out, June 8th will always be a day of varying emotions. It will be one of happiness and fond memories, but it will also be one with nostalgia and pangs of sadness blended in as well.
And this is as it should be on a certain day in June.
Do you sometimes work too hard at keeping your emotions in check?
Have you ever felt happy and sad at the same time?