Today, November 21, would have been my mother's 85th birthday, had she not passed on last January.
It is also René Magritte's 110th birthday, and the separate birthdays of two of my closest friends.
Mom loved yellow roses, so I went and bought a few to bring home and have with me all day, to remind me of her. I have kept them by my writing desk most of the day, in my peripheral vision.
In the morning's bright cold sunlight, I set them on the kitchen counter, where the play of light and shadow, and the refraction of light through the rose petals and the glass of the vase made beautiful patterns on the counter's white surface.
Ritual is important. We use rituals to mark milestones and changes in our lives, to celebrate initiations and rites of passage, to solemnly and joyfully remind ourselves that we have changed, that everything has changed, and that we can move forward, never go back. We use rituals that are received from our ancestors. But I often think that the best, most effective rituals are the ones we make on the spur of the moment, that we create, or invent.
I hereby commit myself to an invented ritual of a year and a day, in which I will have flowers around on the birthdays and deathdays of both of my parents. After that prescribed time, I will do as I am moved to do. Perhaps I will repeat the flowers on their important days indefinitely; perhaps a period of prescribed ritual do its job, and settle what needs to be settled, so that it can be let go, and we all move on.
Today, at least, these cheerful flowers brightened my day, and my mood, and gave me reason to celebrate, to remember all that was good and loving and fun and brilliant about my mother.