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Today, I officially turn 40 years old. 

Today, is a milestone day for me. Not because of the age I am turning but because I have finally forgiven myself after 17 years. 

On July 31, 2000, I went out to celebrate my birthday with a bunch of my friends, like anyone in their 20's would have done. I don't remember who I celebrated the day with, where I went, or even if I enjoyed myself. I just remember two things:

  1. Prior to the celebration, I felt like I needed to get out. My mom had been battling cancer and I had been juggling school, helping at the family restaurant, and taking care of my mom. I needed a break and felt like my birthday was the best excuse for it. 

  2. When I came home that night, my mom had waited up for me with a present. She said she had wanted to spend my birthday with me. I didn't know this or I don't remember her telling me this. 

My mom passed away on March 15, 2001. I didn't get another chance to celebrate my birthday with her. I've held on to this regret for 17 years. 

At the beginning of this month, my friend mentioned my birthday and I burst into tears (as I usually do when someone mentions my birthday). I told her that I hate my birthday. I told her what happened 17 years ago. She said this to me: 

That one day is not representative of how much you loved her. You took great care of her and loved her. She didn't need to forgive you because she likely wasn't mad. Instead of spending your birthday full of regret. Spend it being thankful for your mom. This was an important day for her. 

Her words had a profound effect on me because I knew it was true and shifted my thinking. Moving on, I am now going to look forward to this day, not because of what it means to me, but what it meant to my mom. 

 Thank you mom for my life.