Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have been 94 had she not died of cancer at age 61.  It would not be dramatic or untruthful of me to say that there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think of her, remember her, wonder what she would do in a similar circumstance, what she would say to someone who had treated her a certain way.  In short, yes, I miss her.

I was only 22 when she died.  Barely, if I’m being generous, an adult.  Still in college but, gratefully, finishing my degree.  And then she was gone. Amidst a large Irish Catholic family, there I was, the youngest of the clan. And barely able to be heard among the din of four confident, vocal, and testerone-driven brothers. Even now, 32 years later, it’s still a challenge.

It was my first broken heart, losing my mom.  Seems odd to say, maybe, but it’s true. She was my go-to person. Being the youngest of her children perhaps gave us a special bond, but she was my friend. And she believed in me. She gave me confidence to do whatever I wanted. She never made me feel less than—even among my loud brothers and sister.

Though I never would have become a nurse had it not been for her death, I think I’d still like to have her around to celebrate her 94th birthday. I imagine she would give someone a good run to be the ‘life of the party’ despite her age-related frailties.

Yes, I miss her, but today still warrants a celebration.  Happy Birthday, Mom.  I love you.