It was Mum’s birthday this week. She would have been 73, which doesn’t feel like a massive ask, but there you go. Anyway, it got me thinking about ‘special days’ in life. All my life I have been aiming to achieve something ‘special’ – whether that’s in the way we celebrated our wedding, the songs I’ve written and sung publicly, or indeed, the book (s) that I’ve published.
It is always with the view to creating that ‘special’ experience for the guests or the listeners, or the readers involved. I suppose that’s what being creative and making art is really. Nobody paints a picture with a view to it being average do they? So, when the second birthday we’ve spent without Mum came around I will admit to feeling a bit hacked off about it – not through pity for ourselves, but because it felt like a good excuse for me to publicly remember her. And, really, that sucks. Just because it’s a ‘special’ occasion doesn’t mean I suddenly thought about her for the first time in the last two years. I might have gone two minutes without thinking about her if I’m lucky (or unlucky depending on what frame of mind I’m in).
And just because we liked to celebrate our birthdays together when she was alive as ‘special’ days, it doesn’t mean these were the only exceptional times that we were fortunate enough to spend together. It got me thinking, really, that a lot of us tend to think about or aim generally for the next ‘special event’ in our lives – when we get to go out at the weekend, when we get to go on holiday with the girls (me in June!), when we get to take the kids to Legoland (it was awesome tbf). And yet the older I get, the more I realise that every day is special, or can be, in its own way.
I am fortunate enough to share special moments with my children if not every day, then most in some way or another. A quiet night in on the sofa with a bottle of wine might end up being special if it leads to a meaningful conversation with my other half about something which makes us laugh, or think more deeply about, or discover something about each other that we didn’t know before (which still happens even after almost two decades together).
I used to think that to feel or be special you had to do something ‘big’ in life, and the older I get the more I realise that it’s the little things which are the most special of all. The people that have known you and loved you, and supported you, for the longest time. The time we spend together on a daily, weekly or annual basis as friends and family, they feel more and more special as life goes on. It also led me to this poem, which I jotted down while I was watching the final instalment of Derry Girls (love you mum!).
It doesn’t take a special day to make us wonder
What we might have done
Or, where we might have gone
Anniversaries are not required
We don’t need a prompt
It’s not like we can just bring them back
Those special days
The ones that were yours too
But we can still, and always will,
Remember to celebrate you