Tradition Burns Bright

The day felt like any other in some ways. It arrived with little fanfare and slipped by with the usual fits and starts. It was my mom’s birthday. A day I’ve marked for much of my life, and this one would have been her 70th. She’s not around to celebrate, as many of you know. Even so, it’s impossible to not honor the day internally with a combination of missing, yearning, and the strange mundanity that accompanies life even in the face of drastic change.

I like to imagine the day would have been a grand celebration, complete with balloons, friends, music, and dancing. In all fairness, though, my mom was better at smaller gestures backed by bigger meanings. One of these in our family was the lighting of a “life candle” on birthday mornings, and allowing it to burn throughout the day. The tall thin sticks of wax represented one person’s ability to share light and warmth, perhaps for an unknown amount of time.

When I was old enough to return the favor for my mom, I continued this tradition, even with her passing. This year, the gloomiest part of me thought about dubbing it her “death candle.” Yet, in her life and death, this small gesture makes me feel close to my mom. And it’s a tradition I now share with my kiddos. I light a candle on their birthdays and talk about how they are bright little lights in the world, and how their grandma helped me see the world this way. It’s the passing of a torch, of sorts. In this way, and many others, my mom shines on.

~Robynne Boyd, Goodgrief App Co-Founder

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