Celebrating Life and Learning about Triggers

Posted by Melissa Robertson-Bye on

Every year on March 15th, my sister, Lilly, and I send birthday wishes to my Mom (Lilly’s Oma) in the stars. The first few years we did a balloon release. After a few years I had read about the dangers to wildlife and the environment caused by balloon releases. So, last year we switched to flowers. We went to the pier in downtown Burlington and threw flowers into the water. Mom loved flowers so this was a perfect alternative. Afterwards, we drop Lilly off at daycare or a playdate and head for lunch. 

This year I changed our tradition a little. 

In Ontario, we usually have March Break during the week of my Mom’s birthday but because of the lockdowns, our break has been shifted. I had to weigh the pro’s and con’s of this, Lilly’s school, and my Mental Health. I knew that I would not be in the head space to have Lilly home with me all day. I also knew that if I took her out for the morning, I would feel terrible to make her go to school in the afternoon. That meant keeping her home but I didn’t have the head space for that. So, Lilly misses out on Monday. But I decided that I would do something with her and I. I let Jesse know that I take Lilly to send Mom flowers on Sunday and then I would work the rest of the day.

On Saturday (March 13) Jesse let me know that he would be going out with Lilly around 10 on Sunday. What?! What about flowers! He said yeah I thought you could do them in the afternoon. I planned my day for Sunday on Friday and I set aside 12-5 to work. So now I had to start earlier. But it worked out! I had a very productive day. I felt great about my accomplishments from my list, it’s always hit or miss for me in the mornings.

On Jesse’s way home, he called to let me know that he would pick me up and would come with us. I picked a spot on the Red Hill Trail as it is special to all three of us. Jesse and I have both taken Lilly there separately but never together. On our way to the trail, Jesse says, “I figured the afternoon was better so that you could work in the morning. I figured you might not be able to work in the afternoon.” That was brilliant! I didn’t even think about that. As it turned out, I did work a little when we got home but not for very long. 

We walked along the trail. I don’t think the three of us have been on this trail at the same time, yet it is a family favourite. 

We got to our spot. 

Lilly and I wished Mom a happy birthday and threw flowers into the water. It was interesting watching the flowers, some happily went down the creek towards the lake, others went in a circle around and around and there were a few that tried to float up stream. The flowers that were floating in a circle almost looked like they were trying to come back to us. If the water wasn’t rushing so high I might have picked them back up. The flowers that went upstream reminded me that our family is filled with strong women. Every woman that is blood-related to me has had some sort of struggle. We have all had our ups and downs and we are all amazing. Lilly asked to keep some of the greenery for her room, which I thought would be a perfect addition to her room (this is a story for another day). Then she and Jesse played on the rocks while I had a cry. 

On our way home we talked about dinner. Neither of us had actually eaten during the day (I had 2 muffins which is something right?). My earlier plan was to make mushrooms, potatoes and vegetables. Jesse said that he would take care of it. Perfect! Off the hook for cooking! 

When we got home he pulled out veggie ground for baked pasta which was great because. I planned to do that the following day (Monday). He made some extra and I didn’t have to prepare dinner on Monday.

I have been trying to put in as many systems as I can to help me through any given day. Making sure Lilly had dinner was my only responsibility the following day - Mom’s birthday. Jesse would take care of bedtime. When I plan ahead then I feel more at ease and I’m not as amped up. I am still learning these systems and how to use and adjust them. 

The morning of the 15th, I dropped Lilly off at school and headed into Burlington to meet up with my sister. I picked up Starbucks for us which was Mom’s favourite (I have many fond memories of Starbucks and Mom). We met at Spencer Smith Park, bundled up and walked along the Pier. There was a difference in the air and weather this year. The wind wasn’t as strong and it felt warmer than the year before. As soon as we got to the pier, the wind picked up. Of course! 

Shannon picked up pink tulips. They were beautiful and perfect. One by one, we tossed them in and wished her a Happy Birthday. It was beautiful to watch them float, they all found each other and formed a line into the lake. I love that we remember Mom here. I have such fond memories of being at Spencer Smith Park as a child. 

The rest of the day I took it easy. I picked up french fries for lunch. I had a lengthy nap on the couch. Lilly and I snuggled together after dinner. I did not do much. 

This year was no easier than others. It was different. What helped was knowing my triggers and ways to either navigate around them or to have a system in place to help me. 

Do you have traditions for those who have passed? We would love to hear about them. Let us know below.