Today is my birthday. I’m twenty-nine. No… really, I am twenty-nine! Honest!

This is my first birthday without Mom. Last year, we went camping with Aaron’s parents for my birthday. When I told Mom that I’d be gone on my birthday she said, “That’s a bummer. I was going to make you a cake!” I smiled and told her that she could make me one next year. Today it’s next year, and she’s not here. I don’t regret going camping last year, not at all. The kids had a wonderful time, and it was great to have the opportunity to spend the time with Aaron’s parents. I wouldn’t change that weekend at all!

I guess that reflecting on that short conversation with Mom reminds me that none of us know what tomorrow will bring. It’s like I thought that Mom would always be here. I had no reason to think that. She’d had more than one brush with death. I knew better than most young people how precarious life can be. Yet, life without her was still a shock. It’s still sad, and I still miss her even more than I’d have ever guessed. For nearly twenty-nine years, she was so much a part of my life. Who I am today, is in so many ways, due to her influence. I can only aspire to be half the woman that she was. She set the standard high, but did everything that she could to equip me to aim for it. For that I am thankful beyond words.

If I had to make a birthday wish, it would be this: That we would never let a day go by without telling those we love, just how much we love them. Do me this one favor today, if you can, give your mom a hug, and tell her just how much you love her.

Mom never got the chance to make me that cake this year, but my sister and my daughter stepped in to do it themselves. I’ll be honest; it’s the most beautiful cake that anyone has ever made me. Tonight when I blow out the candles I’ll give them both a hug, and tell them how much I love them, because we never know what next year will bring.