The Last Birthday

My birthdays have been always a bit strange since I found out my mum is terminally ill. Since 2014, I haven’t really known should I celebrate my birthdays or not. Should I be happy about a birthday when I know that it’s possibly the last birthday when my mum is alive?

Sometimes I wonder would I be more excited about my birthdays if my mum wasn’t ill. Would I want to celebrate them, invite people over, make a fuss about it? It’s something I will never know. And part of me is jealous of all those people, who can celebrate their birthdays without feeling guilty for being happy, who don’t have to worry about their loved one being dead before their next birthday.

But this post isn’t about just any birthday, it’s about my last birthday.

This year, my mum’s health has gone downhill a lot. She’s often confused, and she doesn’t even know what time it is, or what day it is. She might call in the middle of the night, because she doesn’t realise that it is night time. She thinks something happened a couple of weeks ago, when it happened just a few days ago. And she forgets things that she’s been told, and she thinks she’s somewhere where she’s not.

On my birthday, I was thinking she might not remember because I went to work without receiving a call from her in the morning. A lot of people easily forget birthdays because they are just once a year. A lot of people don’t remember my birthday. But, it is me. I am her child, surely she would remember my birthday, especially because it’s close to her own birthday, and she had a birthday party. So, if she had her birthday, that means my birthday is coming up. How could she forget that?

I came back home from work. Still no call from her. At this point, I figured, she probably forgot. But surely someone would think to remind her? Surely someone would call her, and just mention it during a conversation.

As I was messaging my sister, my mum called. I was surprised. I thought that she wouldn’t remember. I had been waiting the whole day for her to call me, I had even thought about calling her, in hopes that she would remember it’s my birthday. I answered the call. “Are you coming to visit with grandma tomorrow”, she asked. “No”, I answered, while being very confused because I don’t live near her, I couldn’t just go up and visit her. She explained that she wasn’t meant to call me, she was meant to call my aunt, and the phone call ended pretty quickly.

What broke my heart is that she didn’t even mean to call me. It was my birthday, and she called me by accident. Even talking to me didn’t remind her of my birthday. It never crossed her mind. It was most likely the last birthday I will have while having a mum who’s still alive, and she didn’t even remember it was my birthday. How could my own mum forget my birthday? She’s always remembered my birthday, always. And I think that’s what parents are meant to do, they are meant to remember your birthday, even if no one else does. And now I will have to live without hearing “Happy Birthday” from her ever again. I will have to live knowing that she didn’t even remember my last birthday.

It’s hard to explain the pain and ache this simple thing has caused. It might sound like a small thing that shouldn’t matter, but it does matter to me.
– J




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