Birthdays have always been a big deal for my family. When I was growing up, my mother always made sure to save money for mine and my brother’s special days. She would save money and buy us a present or give us money to treat ourselves to something we wanted. Whenever it was the birthday of a friend of hers, she made it a priority to go out to the store and buy them something small or buy them a bouquet of flowers. My mother believes that everyone is entitled to at least one day in which an individual is able to celebrate themselves as well as those who are meaningful in their lives.
Every birthday, she would make sure I got a new outfit to wear, would wake me and my brother and dad up at 4am blasting “Las Mañanitas” and hand me my present, card, and balloons at my bed. She would retell the story of when I was born and how I am a miracle. My birth was, quite literally, a miracle.
My mother was once told she could never have children. This devastated her. When she miraculously had her first pregnancy, she unfortunately had a miscarriage. Dealing with depression, she also attempted suicide more than once. During her last attempt, she was at the hospital, and the doctors asked her if there was any chance she was pregnant. She quickly answered no. When the doctors checked to make sure, she was shocked to discover that she was in fact pregnant. When she got home, the first thing she did was throw away all of the pills she attempted to overdose herself with. She tells me that she felt that her life had regained purpose when she found out that she was expecting a baby. She wanted to make sure that we would make it and be happy together.
A month before I was expected, my mother was rushed to the hospital. Something had gone wrong. My mom tells me that my dad was told that either me or my mom would survive. My mother at some point while at the hospital, fell into a deep sleep. She had a dream that she climbed an arduous mountain, carrying me. When she made it to the top, a light shined on her and me, and she extended her arms to the sky as she held me. She was speaking to God and she said, “God, if she is meant to be mine, let me keep her in health. If she is going to live suffering, I give her to you. I leave her in your hands”. When she awoke, she was overcome with a tremendous peace. She said to my dad, “She will be alright. She is with God now”.
We both survived, but I was sick in the hospital for many weeks following my birth. My mom remembers being at the hospital during Black Friday and being told to go shopping to get her mind off of things. She shopped for clothes for me to keep her busy. She tells me that she bought me a very stylish baby outfit that I wore when I was finally allowed to leave the hospital.
Since then, every birthday is a reminder that life is precious and full of miracles. She also never really had her birthday celebrated growing up, so she makes sure that others feel special and loved because she knows what it is like to not feel happy.
A big part of my mom’s birthday traditions includes treating others who are important in your life. This year, she sent me money so I could treat not only myself, but to celebrate those who are important to me by treating them to a meal. When I was a young girl, whether it was boxes of doughnuts, food, a cake for me to share, or money to treat others, my mom emphasizes that birthdays are not just about celebrating yourself, but also celebrating the lives of those around you who make you happy.
For me, birthdays have become just that. A reminder of how lucky I am to be alive and have the opportunity to share my blessings with others. I have inherited my mother’s love of birthdays and I hope to share that passion with others.