My Un-Birthday Birthday

Today is Thursday and I celebrated my birthday on Monday. As wonderful as my day was, something has been bothering me since my day of ‘whatever I want’.

I bought myself breakfast, walked down to the lake with my pink raft, sunscreen, and a mini-cooler full of beers. I lathered up in the annoying white substance that protects me from becoming a lobster and popped open a beer. I congratulated myself on remembering to bring a bottle opener and raised my beer for an invisible cheers. I laughed out loud at my 10:30 a.m. birthday beer and rationalized it was appropriate since the Wicked Apple Cider was nothing more than apple juice, right? Who cares? It was my birthday and I was going to do whatever I wanted to do.

When I’m in the lake or in the hot tub, I don’t have my phone with me, but I usually have to make sure my offspring keep their heads above water. Monday was different. No phone, nothing to read or learn or follow up on, but also, no kids to watch. I was literally alone on the water. I imagined what the people in the nearby houses might be doing. I wondered if they saw me and wondered what I was doing. For a moment I wondered if they were judging me or jealous that I was floating with a beer at 10:30 am on a Monday morning. But then I let my mind roam a little.

I focused on the nature sounds all around me in awe of how quiet it is in the country. That led me to think about my Grandma Lorraine. The first time she came to our country lake house she commented how peaceful it was and how she would love to sit outside on a spring or fall day and read a book, soaking in the ambiance.

Then I started to cry. My eyes are watering as I write this and I reflect on that time. Now there are full blown tears and snot running down my face and my family is asking me what’s wrong. “I’m writing my blog,” I respond matter-of-factly. Sigh. Back to my grandma.

My Grandma calls me on my birthday every year and asks me what I’m doing to celebrate. Scratch that. My Grandma called me on my birthday every year. Sigh. I lost my Grandma Lorraine, Grandma Lorr for short, on July 3. Between July 3 and my birthday, I cried a lot, but it was random and intermittent. Since my birthday the ache is stronger and the tears are more frequent.

I didn’t get the phone call I usually get. I didn’t get the birthday card in the mail with the distinctive handwriting. I looked at the mailbox and burst into tears. I tried to smile and enjoy my day as best as I could, but she was missing and I am taking it hard. Monday felt more like a vacation day than my birthday, if that makes any sense.

I know time heals all wounds and I know she’s with my Grandpa Ray and they’re looking out for me and my family. It’s just been hard to begin to experience all my “firsts” without my Grandma Lorraine.


Katie Helgesen

Katie Helgesen is the Senior Director of Business Intelligence at Dealer Inspire, a fast-growing and award winning technology company near Chicago. Katie and her husband, Todd, have 4 awesome kids and love living in a small community centered on a lake in northwest Indiana. Baseball, t-ball, and soccer schedules are just a few pieces of Katie’s Mom Hustle. Her daydreams revolve around finding more “me time” and traveling. In real life, Katie keeps herself sane with naps, Netflix and eating out as often as she can.