A mom is the best company to keep throughout life. Odds are, she spent hours upon hours cooking and cleaning, taught the difference between right and wrong, gave the tools to be a caring person with successful relationships, and was an in-home therapist with the strongest shoulder to cry on. Being a mom is the role of a lifetime, and all she gets is one day in early may for celebration. Mother’s Day is the time to show appreciation, love, and all the attention she deserves. I always thought I was good at this. Every Mother’s Day, I’d greet my mom with a cheesy card, a tacky piece of jewelry, and handmade coupons for “breakfast in bed” that she’d probably never redeem, but she never failed to appreciate them as the best gifts in the world. Some of the best memories I have with my mom are from this day. This all stopped about six years ago.

I lost my mom to Pancreatic Cancer on July 30, 2010. She was only 45, I had just turned 13. Ever since, Mother’s Day has understandably been a not-so-fun day. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. Was I supposed to celebrate like normal? Grieve? Treat it like a regular day? Typically when someone is terminally ill and sent home on hospice, the nurses hand out tons of fliers on “The Stages of Grieving” or “Coping with Loss," but out of all the BS papers, none of them mentioned how to go about celebrating Mother’s Day without the star of the show. In the end, I would typically spend the day hiding in my room with a TV and lots of comfort food.

Being around others during this time of year was the something I absolutely dreaded. I would go to Target and notice all the people surrounding the card section attempting to find someone else’s words that described their feelings completely. I’d always pick out a card with a cute dog on it, but now, I was no longer one of the consumers. Friends would talk about what they were planning on surprising their moms with and their agenda for that Sunday, but I just sat there realizing I now had a regular day to look forward to.

Social media flooded with old photos, inside jokes, and reasons why their mom is the best mom. The first couple of Mother’s Days alone, I avoided these posts like the plague. Nothing would make me angrier than seeing someone post a sappy photo and caption about their mom, even though the day before they were complaining about how much they “hated her” (yes, friends did this in front of me). I did not understand why I was the unlucky one that now didn’t have someone to celebrate, and honestly, it made me jealous.

This kind of feeling lasted for a while. Lots of tears were shed, negative feelings felt, and I found I asked myself, “Why?” a lot more than the average person. These weren’t typically the actions taken on such a holiday, and eventually I realized it was a waste of my time, and especially my energy. This was a changing point for me.

Instead of getting mad over other’s appreciation for their mom, I decided to partake in the day’s activities. Why shouldn’t I celebrate my mom just because she isn’t here? It’s not like she’s any less of a mom, or all the hard work she put into my life just doesn’t matter anymore; if anything, it makes me appreciate her more than I ever had in the past.

So thank you mom, for raising me to be strong enough to carry on without you. Thank you for teaching me that life, and time, are oh so very precious. Thank you for showing me how to be a great mom, even in the limited time we had together. Along with taking Mother’s Day to appreciate you, I get to use the whole day to reminisce, to laugh, to cry, and that makes the day more special than any breakfast in bed could have. So even though I can’t send a card to wherever you are, yes, I am OK on this Mother-less Day, and I hope you are too.