Today marks the 5th year without you.

Today is never easy, neither is the day before or the day after. Has it really been 5 years? I still get up sometimes  awakening from a bad dream, but then I quickly realize it’s still just as real as day one. It really doesn’t get any easier with time. It just gets easier to keep pushing forward despite the pain. 

Today I simply go through the motions. I go to work, immerse myself in my job as I usually do, chit chat and joke around with students and colleagues, and put a big ole’ smile on my face as if nothing is missing. When you see me on this day, you wouldn’t think this is a person who wants nothing more than to curl up in a ball in bed and watch the Walton’s. I hated the Walton’s, still do, but she loved it. The voices and the vintage color pictures on the screen make it feel like she’s come for a visit. 

Today I try to remember the things that I am thankful for since this holiday week is forever tarnished by her passing.

I’m thankful that with age my hands are starting to look just like hers. 

I’m thankful she introduced me to blonde hair dye, so I too can keep covering the grays before I even notice I have them. 

I’m thankful for the late night chats about love, what it is and what it should never be. I’m thankful for the visits to the diner or Friendly’s, our walks around the mall buying crap we didn’t need, and the way she kept picking me up off my ass after every one of my poor choices landed me on it. 

Today, I remember how she always bought me the Keds I wanted, and how she refused to buy me anything from the Gap. I go back to when I was 14, and she trusted me not to talk to strangers while wandering the Atlantic City boardwalk alone. 

I go back to the days when she smelled like a fragrance counter at Macy’s but ten times more pleasant. I go back to the days she collected hats, and I picture her being the hat model and poet she could have been. 

There is nothing, and I mean nothing I wouldn’t give to hear her sing Ave Maria on my uncle’s karoake machine again. 

Today, I remember that no matter how long I live or who I meet, I will never find a stronger, prouder, and more beautiful, steadfast boss bitch anywhere on this planet. 

So maybe I’ll end today with a glass of red wine, or maybe I’ll begin tomorrow with Eggs Benedict and a side of corned beef hash in her honor. Either way, I’m going to get through today and the next with gratitude, not only for all the things she was and all the moments we shared, but for all the little things that remain branded in my mind – like her voice, her laugh, and her Christmas cookies Dad would demolish before anyone else could get them. 

“Mom” simply doesn’t feel like a significant enough word to use anymore.


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