The End.

2013 will always be The Year Mom Died. It has been a difficult year, of course, even if it was not as grueling as 2012 when I watched my mom disintegrate before my eyes. I planned this year to be one of recovery and self-care. To a certain degree, that happened. I sleep straight through most nights now. The physical manifestations of the intense stress has subsided. I no longer have occasional chest pains, or mysterious nerve pain in my arms, or the odd itchy feet.

In general, though, it was mostly a year of just getting through. It was the year I did not want to celebrate—not birthdays, not the holidays. I just wanted to get over it…march straight through those “first-fill-in-the-blank-without-mom” events, head down against the pain. I took the grief counselor’s advice, “be gentle with yourself.” For me that meant not pushing myself forward, and allowing myself to grieve whenever the mood struck. I did not try to be strong for anyone, or to spare anyone else discomfort.

Not a day goes by that she is not on my mind. Mundane things and places bring me back to her—a trip to the farmer’s market, a Costco run, the beach, the kitchen. Our home is filled with gifts from her over my lifetime. But the most important gifts I carry with me.

I learned so much over the last two years—who I could count on, how to live with uncertainty, the importance of tenacity, that it’s never too late in life for a personal renaissance.

What does 2014 hold? It’s hard to say. I know what she would be telling me…time to move forward. I have my whole life ahead of me. Travel. Enjoy life.These are all true, and I will hold her life as an example of moving forward from loss and grief and fear.

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