Technically speaking, today should be a very sad day for me. First of all, my Mother lost her battle against bone tumor on February 26, 1989 - two days after my fourteenth birthday. Second, this was also the birthday of my beloved Aunt Tatiana (my mom's namesake), who died suddenly of a heart attack in September of 1991.
While I was still living in Ukraine, I had to ask permission of the entire family before going to something even remotely entertaining on February 26. My Dad was mildly disapproving and my Grandmothers were openly scandalized by a notion that I dared considering being happy on that day. The only person who did not give me the guilt trip was my maternal Grandfather Vasily, who said that locking me up was not going to bring back the dead but could potentially mess up my teenage years, so, "Let the kid go have fun - it's not like she gets enough of that anyway."
So, today, I choose to celebrate. My birthday fell on a Thursday, and we didn't get to do much that evening because my husband and I both had to work that day. So, we are having a small gathering with some friends to celebrate today. In addition to my own life, I also want to celebrate those of my Mom and my Aunt. They both believed that the best way to remember someone was to get together and talk about all the good times, laugh, cry, drink, sing, and talk some more. As much as I miss all the things we did together and all the good times, my biggest regret about losing them so early is that we didn't get to be grownups together, when we could be equals and talk to each other as mature women (instead of mother figure to daughter figure).
If there is heaven, I hope it is not that stodgy place with angels and palaces where a person can't even get a decent glass of wine. In my version of heaven, there is a party going on, hosted by my Mom and my Aunt, with lots of good food, good drink, good music and all-around good fun. It may be a while before I can host something equally as grand here among the living, but, damn it, February 26 will remain not a day of mourning, but a day of celebration for me. It's the least I can do. Cheers, ladies!