Today is….

Today is complicated. Today is my birthday. I am 52 glorious years old today. I remember 3 years ago that I wanted to make it to my 50th birthday. It was my second goal after making it to Joe and Michelle’s wedding. I remember being so out of breath on my 49th birthday that I couldn’t blow out the three candles on the cake. That was due to a rare reaction to the chemo that I was on. Joe, a year or two later, told me that it was a hard birthday for him. I was bald and couldn’t breathe and had been at the hospital for 7.5 hours the day before, trying to avoid a hospital stay and get some help with the crazy reactions I was having. He said he realized at that moment how sick I really was. So, every subsequent birthday is a blessing.

Last year, Joe came up to Omaha to surprise me on Valentine’s Day and stay for my birthday. He had been trying to get me to be a Chiefs fan for years, and told me, “Since you have finally drank the Chief’s Kool-Aid, I thought you needed some swag to wear.” It was a throwback Chief’s sweatshirt, which I absolutely love. He went out to dinner with us and then drove home after my birthday dinner. It was the last time I ever saw him…. on my birthday. I often look at the spot in my living room where he gave me one of his big bear hugs as he got ready to head out the door and drive back to Kansas City. I had no idea that he would be gone three weeks later. So today I am sad as it has been a year today since I have seen him. I am also blessed because the last day I saw him, he was spoiling me with a visit and my last hug from him was on my birthday.

This past Saturday, I did something very special for myself. I didn’t let anyone know I was doing it…. but it was something I had been wanting to do for about 10 months. I put on my Joe Messina memorial t-shirt, my dark gray and neon green socks (Joe’s favorite color in high school), jumped into the car that all of our kids have owned and driven, but was originally Joe’s, and headed to the tattoo parlor with a letter from Joe from when he was in boot camp. They created a stencil of his handwriting and now I have a message tattooed on my inner left forearm from Joe that I see all the time. My tattoo artist was super nice, and she was from Montana. She thanked me more than once for letting her do this work on me in his honor. She thought it was really cool. It didn’t take long, but I was near a window and watched two firetrucks go by during my time in her chair. That was my cue that Joe was with me and approved of my choice. Joe had A LOT of tattoos. He is probably laughing hysterically that his mom and dad now both have tattoos….to honor him and his memory. Below are photos I took with Joe at my birthday dinner last year, one of his hair on my birthday (I compared him to an alpaca) and then of the tattoo I got. I absolutely love it. The tattoo says, “Hey Mama! I love and miss you! Love, Joe”

8 thoughts on “Today is….

  1. Oh Cyndi, Sad, sad, sad… my heart breaks for you. Good for you and just like you… to get that tatoo!!!
    I feel I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Joe this past year. Thank you for sharing him through your Mom- love and memories. He was/is blessed to have you for his Mom. And Happy Birthday to you, Cyndi…you Trooper!


  2. Such a special tattoo! Such a special memory to share. Happy Birthday Cyndi! May your memories and the love you have with your family shine bright today. You are loved! ❤️❤️


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