Recently I had an unexpected day off and I spent the day doing some work for both of my jobs as well as spending part of the day cleaning. My biggest task was to tackle my husbands and my bookshelves that have become junk collectors over the last few months. As I was fixing some shelves, I started searching for other items in the house that could go on that shelf instead of wherever else it was and I came across a box. I remembered that it was a box that my Mother-in-Law brought over a couple months ago when she and I were sorting through more of my childhood pictures. I vaguely knew what was in the box, but I had no idea what was about to hit me.
I knew that there were some sympathy cards in the box from my mom’s funeral back in 2010. When she had brought it over, she told me that’s a “go through this one later” box and she just wanted to make sure that I had it as she was cleaning out her office. I decided that was the day to go through it. I was home by myself, had Harry Potter on for noise (my typical go to movies when I’m trying to get other things done) and I started looking through the box. I knew to anticipate sympathy cards from people I knew and people who I didn’t know well but knew my mom. What I had forgotten about, was the amount of birthday cards I had received after she died. Just for reference, my mom died in November and I spent two months in Florida with my family trying to regroup. Then I came back home to Dallas in mid-January and started school, and my birthday is at the end of February. My 20th birthday came just after four months after my mom’s death and birthdays had always been a big deal in our family. However, on that 20th birthday, I was not forgotten.
As I went through the box, I found probably 20 to 30 birthday cards, most from my church family, some from my actual family, and a few from other friends and people outside of my church community. While I read them, memories of that week came back to me. For about a week, I would go to my mailbox in the student center and it would be full of cards! I normally just stopped once a week, but as it was my birthday week, I was hopeful to receive a few cards from my family. I was left astonished with how many letters, and a couple packages, that I received that week. The cards were full of sweet words and messages, with some even recognizing how hard this first birthday without my mom would be. I felt so thankful for my community of people around me.
Community is one of those things that I think as a society we forget how important it is. We thrive when we have people cheering for us, advising us, picking us up when we fall and when we just need some help. I am thankful for the community that kept me going when I was in the depths of my grief. Who have you been able to rely on for support?