The older you get, turning a year older often ceases to be a big deal anymore. It’s more of a reminder that age calls for more responsibility and pulling more weight more action, moves, decisions. A reminder that time runs fast and people come and go. That you are blessed to be here and also sometimes a painful reminder of what’s not yet there or in your life at a given time. Last year in my gratitude for all the birthday wishes, prayers, messages and calls I chose to celebrate my parents instead. I wouldn’t be if they weren’t. I thought through a lot and hoped for a lot of things. That time unknown to me would be the last time ever my brother and I would have our birthdays and birthday prayer hours with our mom’s physical presence…in every other day. Every year before each of our birthdays she would be the one to ask ‘so my people what are we doing for your birthday? Are we fasting for gratitude to God for the year past and one ahead? Are we forming a chain prayer or what are we offering to God? Can you think and pray about it and I will too whoever gets the answer first let’s share‘ this year I waited for that question. She did this for all our birthdays. This time my brother and I thought of her consistently in fact, for me, daily is my routine beautiful memories all the time leading to gratitude even for the most difficult days. The next weekend the two of us spent a night at a vigil worship and prayer experience and Lord did I pray… weekend after is my sister’s birthday I share the month with. In her prayer, Mommy says with such deep longing and love followed by the deepest of sighs ‘JaAe my dear lovely Heavenly daughter continue to shine on and being just a wonderful supportive daughter.’ Fear gripped me this could be time up and I’m just not ready to let go I just couldn’t. A few days later she did her grand ascent ofcoz not without dropping me and the young man enough hints to him much more directly. Her love, the strongest most obvious beautiful thing ever. One can never feel orphaned with such a special connection. It’s a label I have effectively refused to associate myself with not because I am in terrible denial but God has taught me the most special things through this journey about such transitions and life ahead. She lives her love everywhere and evidence everywhere. Miss her though. This year I spent some time by the grave for the first time in my life on my birthday. I know she doesn’t lay there but in our hearts souls deeply intertwined but that’s the place – The place the holds the bones that held the body that wombed me for 10 precious months. I had a lot to be grateful to God for because of those bones I am, took the risk and my siblings and I were all born. She held steadfast in faith for which we still praise through the storm and pain. Today I received a special gift. Someone shared a picture I can’t remember when it was taken but it’s a beautiful one. I remember the stories they shared then and the counsel she gave. Her call for more love, genuine practice of our faiths and beliefs in everything we do, a call to regarding our works and professions as a place to demonstrate and share God. She’s a woman surrounded by children surrounded by daughters, women and even when the young men came around they know there is a mother to be found in her. So you humble, stay put, listen, engage and open up coz anyway she knows already. These group of women from various places, a Church Women’s ministry, had given her a surprise call mid that week and said they were coming to visit. Some unsure who it was they were coming to see but were determined they must come to her rather than go for another visit elsewhere. Sometimes we get used to people saying I am coming, I am doing I will but anyway, that Saturday they come. I’ve not known many people who received flowers in their lifetime. Planted and bouquets natural flowers but my momma did. These women of all ages brought her flowers we’ve preserved to date. They brought their love and testimonies because they felt more than inspired by her. Strength. Faith. Love. Steadfastness. Joy. Grace. She received them and immediately went to pray for each one of them. Even after that visit, she’d still send blessings their way after they are gone. Every time people randomly come to me with beautiful stories and testimonies it’s a blessing to me a joy and a moment of deep pride and humility. A reminder to Heaven and a fist bump with God for His moment of pride for His daughter having properly represented Him. A challenge to me and all who walked with, met or interacted with her. Probably the only person I know who my close friends rarely ever refer to in the past tense we never do nor are they afraid to talk about her anytime because she’s just that real and awesome. And a constant reminder of just how lonely and painful such a journey is but also how close and tightly God’s held us. I have had more than 2 decades of birthdays with her here and now our wonderful sister gets to have her first with her there. Every day is a blessing. A reminder of time. Here now there next.This is my gratitude in 2019.