The First Mother’s Day Without You

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This morning, I heard your laugh.

Six and a half months later and the Alex and Ani website still has the matching Leukemia bracelets I was going to buy us in my shopping cart. I can’t bring myself to take them out.

I won’t get to see you Sunday, not even your gravesite. Staten Island is a ways away and your name isn’t even on dad’s stone yet. The flowers I brought you for your birthday are probably dead by now and, odds are, you’re still wondering why I didn’t just opt for fake ones.

“Duh,” you’d say if you were here. But you’re not.

This is the first Mother’s Day without you, and it’ll likely be the hardest, though, your first birthday was a surprising breeze. That’s just because you made sure all of your biggest fans packed out a pub in your honor — toasting to life, love and what it feels like to find peace.

This week is much harder, though. This week is tough.

It’s almost a year since you stood outside of Radio City, cane, cancer and all, to mark my entrance into the real world. Losing you felt like a terrible hangover, the kind that leaves you numb and hazy. Kind of like a car crash. At almost 23, I’m finally getting my footing, but I have questions — like — how did you deal with losing dad so gracefully? Will the world ever stop and wait for me to catch up? What’s a 401k? Can I survive on 25k a year? Are those Chinese Food containers microwaveable? What do I do about mold? Hypothetically, of course.

Are you happy with how I’ve handled myself? The apartment? My writing? Would you be happy with the “woman” I’ve become (even though you can finally see all of my credit card statements)? Sorry I spend so much on Starbucks. I promise I’ll learn to balance my check-book.

Where did you and dad meet? How is he? Have you guys met Frankie Valli yet?

I wasn’t ready for you to go, but you had to. You would’ve been 60 last month and all of senior year, I had hoped to throw you a party. I wanted to buy you that bracelet. I wanted to visit you more. I wanted to fly you to San Juan for the weekend so you could cross it off your bucket list.

I wanted to do a lot of things, and I wanted to do them with you. I thought we’d have more time, but that’s just how the story goes. Your story. Your incredible story of growing up in the 70s, picking up and moving to Bermuda for months at a time, dating that guy in that rock band and dancing on stage with that singer whose name I wish more than anything I could remember.

I still have your claddagh earrings, and I hope to one day wear them. I can’t say that I’ve carried on your taste for Coors or kept up with Ellen for you (I do know 25k doesn’t buy me cable), but, six months into being a 23-year-old orphan, I still jump at the chance to bring you up.

“Mom would’ve cried if we got a Panera Bread around here.”

– In reference to a coming Chipotle.

“Mom would’ve voted for the sassy, middle-aged black woman.”

– In reference to our show, the Voice.

“Oh, that makes me think of my mom.”

– In reference to just about any person, place or thing.

Forget Mother’s Day. Forget the Hallmark Card I would’ve gotten you and the episode of NCIS we would’ve watched together. Forget the dinner I know damn well we would’ve ordered from Tasty Chicken on 17th Avenue and the pillow-talk we would’ve had before your meds kicked in. Forget the argument we would’ve gotten into over my selfish attitude and forget the tears we would’ve shed as we apologized — half out of regret for taking it that far, half out of love.

I love you every day and I’ll keep loving you until the sun stops setting. I can only hope to keep you alive somehow, in a toast to Patrick Swayzee or in a song like I’ve Got a Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas because, unfortunately, it was your favorite (and your ringtone until 2012). I’m still sorry for that time I called you a prick (and that time I killed your poinsettia, and that time I forced you to try Fireball), and I’m sorry for telling the third grade drug counselor you smoked marijuana when you really smoked Marlboros. I’m still glad you didn’t get arrested.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom. This morning, this Sunday, and every day until the next one.

I’ll always love you more.

(Got ya.) TC mark

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