The nightmare my mother experienced after my sister was killed in a tragic accident by a runaway car whose driver fell asleep at the wheel was harrowing. In less than a minute her first born daughter/best friend was gone. Living felt impossible, but she did it.
Immediately after Donna's funeral, my mother never returned home. She moved in with Donna's family to help them heal. For months she had the distraction of helping her grandsons but that was only temporary. Mom eventually had to return to her life and was again destroyed when she went home to the deafening silence.
Months later, my mother continued to crumble as my sister’s birthday grew near. She commanded, "You are spending Donna's birthday with me. Take the day off, clear your schedule. I don’t care what we do, but we have to be together".
I could hear the trepidation in her voice and it was in that precise moment that I realized what to do.
The next morning, I created Donna’s Annual Chocolate Cake Memorial Celebration to honor the life of my sister-- to commence on March 12, 2012. When we were kids, Donna loved chocolate cake. We would spend hours, tearing up the kitchen and baking cakes from scratch. She was the leader and I didn’t do much but ask for continual tastes. As tribute to Donna, I invited everyone I knew to devour a scrumptious piece of chocolate cake in honor of her birthday. I suggested the most important part being that when we indulge, we will completely revel in the happiness of what we are doing. We won’t be thinking that it’s fattening or too sweet…we will just be doing what Donna did for all those years of birthday cakes in our lives. EATING IT with glee.
What happened next was outstanding. The day that we had dreaded arrived with a sense of excitement. Who will eat cake? Will they take a picture and send it to us? Will they sing happy birthday to Donna? How soon will it be before we start hearing from people? And sure enough, the first picture came in at lunchtime from my niece. Within an hour, my phone, email and Facebook page were flooded with pictures of lovely faces with a delectable piece of chocolate cake. Large pieces with purple flowers, small pieces dripping with chocolate, round little cakes draped in a rich brown frosting, seven-layer slices surrounded by whipped cream florets. With every picture, my mother was more deeply touched. As the day wore on her smile got brighter and she began to breathe again.
By the end of the day, we had received nearly 30 cake pictures. Cakes were joyously eaten in Donna's honor by people in Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, California, Egypt, Norway and Abu Dhabi. It was healing and LOVE celebrated by engaging in Donna's favorite dessert. As a final act to close the first annual celebration, I printed every picture and sent them to her children so that they could remember how many people truly loved their mom.
Donna’s Annual Chocolate Cake Celebration has evolved into Forever Birthdays. (www.facebook.com/foreverbirthdays). Other friends followed suit with Jay’s Day of Pancakes, Alvin’s Hot Cocoa Forever Birthday and, Meredith’s Climb a Tree for Dad Day. Forever Birthdays is opportunity to continually celebrate the lives of our loved ones every year on their birthday.
Join us if and when you need us. We will celebrate your loved one, with you---for the rest of our lives.