Most people live with some kind of grief. It's one thing to worry when your kids start driving automobiles and you're half expecting a phone call in the night; but grief can cut you to the quick suddenly and unexpectedly.

I was expecting to grieve, but I didn't think it would change me. After all, I had always managed to be happy, even through some very hard times -- my parents' divorce, street fights, Vietnam, single-parenting, betrayal of trust by my step-father, and deaths of dear ones sprinkled intermittently throughout those years. This time it's different though -- maybe because death seems a lot closer to me now, at my age; or maybe it's beginning to dawn on me how fragile and, well, mortal we all are.

It's not like I didn't know she was dying; I had helped her with the final details so she would feel at peace while she waited to pass on. Toward the end, she asked me why it takes so long to die. I told her it's probably like waiting for that last minute to tick on the time clock at work so you can go home. Well, she wanted to go home, too. She hoped to meet up with her sisters and maybe see her father who died when she was nineteen and her mother who died when she was only a year old. She finally got her wish on January 6, 1997.

I still think about her every single day. Sometimes I wish I could touch her and other times I just want to talk and visit like we used to. I'm still a happy person. Why shouldn't I be? I've got Aubrey, three incredible kids and 26 beautiful acres in the country. But I still miss my mother, and I still grieve her passing, more than I thought I would. And it has changed me by bringing me still closer to my friends, savoring each moment until we too reach our destinations.


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