On January 4, I noted the first anniversary of my mother’s death.  She died at age 90–no longer able to finish a sentence, walk, or swallow. Those last days she slipped into a coma and then quietly stopped breathing. She was no longer the vibrant mother I had known growing up or the grandmother my girls loved for her fried chicken, ironed sheets, and quirky ways.

When I think of her, I do every day, I am filled with memories of the almost 60 years I knew her–dog walks, snipping a neighbor’s ample lilac blooms, dress shopping, the lovely tone of her voice, my waiting for her to get home from work at night, the care she took of me during my son’s brief life and after his death.

I am sad that she is no longer here on this earth, but there is no stopping the aging process and death. And she is with me, always. This year, on Jan. 4, I lit a candle for her and wrote her a letter in my journal. I did not weep. I am utterly grateful I had her all those years.

On September 22 my son Malcolm will have been dead for 30 years. He died at 6 weeks old. My son lives on in my heart, but the grief I feel–for the life he didn’t get to live, the voice he didn’t get to cultivate, the man he didn’t get to become–still haunts and at times staggers me.

I don’t feel stricken by my mother’s death. Part of me will always feel stricken by my son’s. My mother was supposed to die before me. My son was not. I was at my mother’s side; my son will not be at mine.

~Carol Henderson