All I know is this: I miss my mother. It’s been nearly three years since she passed and I still reach to call her. The first two-years, I’d go to dial her number – then stop – and cry, because that possibility was gone. Whoosh. The past year, I catch myself as the thought enters my mind. Like so many who’ve lost the person closest to them, I’ll always feel that urge to hear her voice, her laughter, even her nagging. That’s what mothers do to daughters, on occasion.

Our routine was funny. I’d get home from work most days, often just near 7. I only had minutes to call her – because God forbid I rang her during Jeopardy! – she’d have my head. She’d promptly hang up if I got in under the wire, just a minute before, to boot. No one was to interfere with her viewing. Not that she was interested in correctly answering any Jeopardy questions – she just liked watching it, a habit, throwing out random answers she knew were off-base, for fun.

And it’s those habits and patterns that I miss. Listening to her long-winded yet supremely amusing messages left on my machine, talking to it like I was on the other end of the line, live. Telling me the goings on of her day, which were wide-ranging. “Oh Pat Murphy and I went to the Daily Treat and split a Reuben, ‘cuz you know we can’t each eat a whole one…” in her lilting Irish brogue. Or “I have arm pains, I’m going to the ER, Thomas is bringing me, also my blood pressure was sky high, I’m not taking any chances,….” , which was a common message, due to her heart issues. She was her own advocate and listened to her body – never ignoring any warning signals.

Mom had a litany of medical issues over the years, which most people forgot about, because she was so tough, positive and just got on with things. Her first encounter with bad health was breast cancer. She caught it early, but it was aggressive, so she had a long slog of chemo and radiation. Her inept doctor didn’t believe how ill she was from her first chemo – yet she threw up so violently she had a seizure and went into a coma straight after.

Bridie almost died, but that didn’t stop her from deciding to get right back to business – to rid her body of this alien, to get her back to the object of living. A day after her last chemo session, she jumped on a plane to go to Ireland – on her own, unlike previous trips I’d made with her. She wasn’t going to let fatigue and a wig keep her from the long-planned trip back to Galway and see her brother, sister and slew of other relatives.

Or getting right back into her beloved garden, digging and weeding, planting like there was no tomorrow. So often, those arm pains that sent her to the ER were a result of her 8-hour garden workouts – but she’d never realized it until days later. No stopping.

And time and time again – amidst open heart surgeries, two more cancers and much more, that was her attitude. I’m not giving up. I’m going to get back to living.

When you’re going through it with your loved ones, you don’t realize how remarkable they are. You’re just there for them, and ecstatic when they recover. And so many times, despite the odds, she did recover. I look back with a mixture of gratitude and amazement – that she fought so hard to stay alive, for so long, for us.

All I know is this: I miss my mother.

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