I passed a birthday recently, the first without mom. No card. No call. No email from her. Just a deafening silence. I received some thoughtful wishes from friends (and mother-in-law) who acknowledged the poignancy of the day for me. Others offered a quick, breezy and cursory greeting via social media.

As with most birthdays, I spent it quietly, taking a leisurely 7-mile urban “hike” along the waterfront. I had ceviche at a Peruvian restaurant where I had taken my mom, and where we sat outside watching the boats go by. In so many ways, the day was not about me but about her and the gifts she bestowed on me throughout my life.

I had a quiet dinner at a nearby French restaurant with G., exactly the no-fuss, no pomp kind of thing I’d requested.

The next day, we and our neighbors took off for a long weekend in Big Sur. I had envisioned a birthday “in a cabin in the woods,” and these neighbors were kind enough to oblige and go on an adventure to a beautiful retreat near the redwood trees in a 20-acre canyon. It was a relaxing weekend of hikes, reading, eating good food and drinking good wine. I made arrangements for a massage therapist to come to the house. Four of us enjoyed massages—in fact, my triceps are oddly sore still.

And so I have survived the first birthday without mom, glad to put this milestone behind me. Now to mentally and emotionally brace myself for the holidays. As with my birthday, I would prefer to hide in a cabin in the woods for the entire season, from mid-November to mid-January. But that is not possible. The world continues, although a bit dimmer than before.

Mom and I get acquainted.
Mom and I get acquainted.

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