A wise friend warned me of certain feelings I’d have after my mother died, and how it would dawn on me that I was now an orphan. I’m now appreciating my friend’s counsel. No matter how old I was, Mom was still Mom. Even into my 50s, she still did motherly things for me, like cooking and mending and ironing. She’d still try to give me moral guidance, and was appalled that I am living with someone without the benefit of a marriage certificate, although as the years went on, that criticism lessened somewhat. (Until fairly recently, family members who brought significant others to her house were provided separate bedrooms, regardless of their home living arrangements or length of relationship. And it was her house, so she could make the rules.)

Either through e-mail or our weekly phone calls, I’d report to Mom my successes and failures, high points and low. I always knew I would hear encouraging or congratulatory words, depending on what I was reporting. She took an active interest in every aspect of my life — work, personal, social, emotional. And I shared virtually everything with her — not much different from when I was in grade school. Rarely were there subjects I avoided.

Now Mom’s gone, and I am an orphan girl. Gone is my cheerleader, my confidant, the only person who gave me 100% support even when it wasn’t warranted. It’s going to take some adjustment, for sure. No one can, or should, take her place. And in the dark hours, I’ll try to remember how fortunate I was to have had her as long as I did.