Today, Mom would have turned 65.

Two years ago today, Dad and I were in Pennsylvania celebrating her birthday and my grandfather’s 90 birthday – she was his greatest birthday present. Two years ago today, we were just beginning to realize she was really sick. I got home from that trip and said to the man I was seeing, “I’m worried. Mom doesn’t seem well.”

Mom on her 63rd Birthday

A month later, on a fall afternoon between classes, when I was sitting in the student cafeteria doing office hours, Dad called. I walked into the courtyard of Stevenson University. Gall bladder. Cancer. Tears I had to gulp down. I taught my next class.

Two months still later, on Thanksgiving morning, she died. Breathed her last breath at 4:30am. Three months – so much of the world shifted in three months

These days the presence of her absence, to quote Pierce Pettis, comes on me strongest at the farm. I so badly want to hear her ideas about where to put the furniture, to see her scale drawings of the rooms and the graph paper couch and dining room table she would dance around like paper dolls. I want to stand in the foyer and hear her make the brilliance of the blue I’ve chosen perfect. I want to live this dream with her.

Dad and my friends do so much – Dad has taken to thinking about natural light and closet space, knocking out sheetrock in just the way Mom would have suggested. My friend Hez has offered to come with the graph paper. This helps.

Still, nothing would give me more joy than to see the shock of her white hair from the kitchen window, to sit there with her and our cups of coffee on this morning, on any morning, and talk through the world and then the day as we used to do. To look into her two-different colored eyes. To see her joy in this dream with me.

I know she feels it. People are good to remind me of that. But to see her and see that pleasure . . .

Today, the blue of the foyer and the brown of the bedroom are the reminders of what it was to see her, to look into her eyes. To know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was loved by the most amazing woman I’ve ever known.

Happy Birthday, Mom.