Birthdays In A Time Of COVID-19

Birthdays In A Time Of COVID-19

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of my mom’s heavenly passing. Normally, I’d be the one to share a memory of her and reflect on the impact she’s had on my life—but today, the script got flipped.

She shared a memory with me in a most beautiful and unexpected way.

In this crazy COVID-19 crisis we all find ourselves in, a friend of mine had to cancel the birthday bash she had originally planned for her 7-year-old daughter. So instead of a party, she requested we do a birthday parade drive-by to shout, cheer and celebrate her in style to the best of our shelter-in-place, don’t-touch-your-face, stay-six-feet-away abilities.

Armed with a bag of jelly beans and a bunch of balloons, we loaded into our car and I extended my arm out the window holding the balloons up high so she could see us coming. I was so excited and joyful to the point of tears at the poignant moment happening for this sweet girl. It was such a beautiful sight to see neighbors and friends lining up in cars, golf carts and riding by on their bikes to offer birthday greetings.

And then it hit me. A flashback to my own birthday.

I was around the same age, seven or eight, waiting outside my ballet studio for my mom to pick me up. She was running late per her usual modus operandi, but that was well before the days of cell phones and texting to alert someone of your imminent arrival. So minute after minute, I just kept looking, pacing, watching…and waiting.

The next thing I knew, Mom came whirring around the corner of the parking lot, her arm extended out the window, holding a bunch of balloons high in the air so I could see them, and shouting “Woohoo!!!” as loud as she could the entire way.

It was my birthday parade….in 1984.

Now, some 36 years later, here I am unexpectedly channeling my mom by doing the exact same thing, albeit under very different circumstances.

We often joke about not wanting to be like our parents, but today I couldn’t have been more proud to be like her. Every day I miss her. I miss her spirit, her zest for life, her joyful heart, and her “I don’t give a rip what anybody else thinks because this is fun” approach to life.

And boy do we need that right now. In the midst of crisis and routines being abruptly disrupted…as we grieve over the loss of time spent with friends, family and classmates…as we celebrate quieter birthdays by ourselves in the spaces of our homes…we need that spirit of joy to carry us through.

Time to raise our balloons in the air, shout for joy, and celebrate the moments we’ve been given—the good ones, the challenging ones, and the better ones to come.

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