This will be the first Mother’s Day without my Mom, who passed away last July. It’ll be the first time I can’t send her flowers and a card, or call her up and wish her a happy one, or thank her for all her boundless love and caring and kindness over the years, or remind her how much I love her and how much she means to me.

Mom and Me at a Cabin in Sequoia National Park

Mom’s final stage of decline was fairly fast, but she spent a lot of time before that in sort of a “plateau” that I’m relatively grateful for, where her Alzheimer’s symptoms seemed to progress only very slowly. Sixteen months ago, she had forgetfulness and confusion, but she could still laugh, talk, smile, and walk about with a little help. We spent Christmas of 2015 together, Mom chuckling approvingly from the sofa as her grandchildren played at her feet. A month later, she was bed-bound and much less communicative, and shortly after that it became clear that my 89-year-old Dad could no longer care for her at home, even with help. They moved into an assisted living facility just a few months before she passed.

I worry about Dad now. Thankfully, he’s always been an optimist who is very good at finding the bright side, keeping busy, and carrying on. We speak often, and he seems to be managing fairly well. But I can only imagine how much he misses her. Loss of one’s spouse is a weighty thing that I can scarcely begin to fathom. I’m heartbroken all over again, just contemplating this Mother’s Day, and revisiting old pictures and my post from Mom’s passing last year. Treasure the time while you have it, my friends. And make sure to care for those left behind.