First Christmas Without

So this is the first Christmas without my mother, and it’s weird.

I’m being honest here. It’s certainly not “good,” and I can’t honestly say it’s “bad,” even though I miss her terribly. It definitely, truly certainly is weird.

Have an Awkward New Year

The family dynamic has changed. Gifting/cards is different, communication by phone and text is different. The emotional connection with every single member of my family has changed in ways none of us saw coming. It turns out mom made an enormous difference behind the scenes.

Not all the changes are bad. I’m in contact with family members I barely knew, which is awesome. I’m staggered by the insane and MIND-BLOWING fact that I am now the oldest female in my direct line. I feel pressured  to do things right, to pick up some of where she left off with connections and responsibilities, to maybe even improve on her example.

Of course, there’s also the aching gap of cannot-communicate-with-her-ever-again. And my grieving father. My brother. My aunt, uncle, and cousins. Everyone handles grief in a different way, and it’s created some barriers and broken down others.

Sharp Curves  Ahead

In sum, I have no idea what any of this will look like in 2013. I do know this much.

1. You never know when someone will be taken from you.

I can’t emphasize this enough. My mother died via freak accident on her 40th anniversary. NO ONE was prepared. I’m so, so grateful that I’d spoken to her the night before on the phone, and told her how much I loved her.

2. Accomplishments still matter.

My mom died twenty-six days before my book came out.

She’d encouraged me the whole time. She’d read very small parts of it, but never saw the completed project – and that made me ache for a little while, in spite of the joy of the debut.

(That specific grief was a strange thing to hide from brand-new readers.)

I believe she’s seen it in Heaven (yes, I know how that sounds, but it comforts me). And here’s the important thing: I know she was and is proud of me. When I write my next book, whether she sees it or not, it still matters… and she’d WANT me to keep going.

3. My own time could come just that suddenly.

If I died RIGHT NOW, what legacy would I leave behind?

I don’t have children, so it wouldn’t be that. I do have people I’ve influenced, for good and ill. I have people I haven’t treated right, and others I’ve done everything for. People I love, and who love me – and if I died right now, how would I be remembered?

When you have a choice to make, that’s what you should ask yourself. How does it matter? What and whom does it affect? The words you speak and the things you do leave echoes, ripples, that keep going long after you’re gone. If you died today, what would your legacy be?

2013, Here We Come

Twenty-thirteen is a new year. A new chance to make things right, to forge a new path, to change direction. Every single day you live is a chance for you to improve.

Don’t waste it. You don’t know when your last day will come.

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