ON US.

She was 59 when she died. We discussed on her final birthday how we’d create a blowout for her 60th, possibly in Ireland, if she was up for it physically.

Every year, I gave thanks she made it another 365 days. I celebrated with custom mix tapes and CDs of songs that evoked memories, inspiration, and laughs; exclusive art to adorn her apartment; surprise visits; anything to show her she mattered. She liked it and she deserved it.

Her birthday was customarily a happy day and I maintained that feeling even after her passing in 2009. Lunch with a friend who knew her; custom dinners with Mia; Brandy Alexanders with Noelle.

I’ve grown and healed and quieted and focused over the past year. I finally feel capable of honoring my mother’s request from our final days together, so I’m celebrating her birthday today slightly more cerebrally than in years past. “Tell our story, Beki.” That’s what she asked, and although I don’t have nearly enough answers – yet – I have a place to start: my intuition.

Born Patricia Marie Dowling in Buffalo, NY on March 10, 1950, my mother was aware of but didn’t fully comprehend the impact she had as Pattie Michael. This is what made her incredibly forceful. It’s also what made our history as mother and daughter confounding and challenging to unpack.

But she never wanted things to be easy, ever. Just fair, honest, and meaningful. And in 2009, I believe she knew exactly what she was doing when she, somewhat subtly, set me on a path of discovery. She knew how questions eat at me until I have answers. I mean, I’m half her. Of that she was acutely aware.

More to come. #eatingatme

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