They say firsts are hard. Yesterday we had the first big first: mom and dad’s wedding anniversary. Their 66th.

Would have been? Was?

How do you count it now that mom is gone? In some sort of past impossible could have been tense or parallel? Or do we just mark it on the continuum of our linear calendars?

Dad corrected himself: “It would have been our 66th… No, it is. It is our 66th anniversary.”


Mom died in June, a few months before the high holidays, giving us time to ready ourselves for all the firsts to come.

  • first Thanksgiving
  • first Christmas

On this first anniversary without her, her absence is still fresh, raw.

It is our 66th…

I’m not sure how to prepare for the high holidays.

Gird my loins? Steel myself? Brace? Grit?

I’ll need a healthy dose of grace. Mom was a giant in just about any season of the year, but come mid-November, her colossal presence wafts its way into many homes and bellies.

  • ginger snaps
  • pralines
  • snickerdoodles
  • divinity
  • trash
  • sugar cookies…

What was your favorite?

Filling the Absence

Her absence may be less “fresh” come November and December, but the size of it will swell exponentially. Our efforts to fill the cookie tubs will never match her abundance.

Leviathan. Behemoth. Mammoth.

And, lord knows, I’m no match for her skills. All of my attempts to make buckeyes have been solid fails.

Moving into and through these firsts, what’s the best strategy?

Hold up the traditions?

Remember but let the traditions go?

Replace them?

I’m not sure. I’ll read up but I doubt that grief has a one-size-fits-all strategy.

The best I can do as I find my way through the darkness is give myself and others grace as we muddy this first set of holidays and memories with our awkward steps (and missteps) through them, and remind myself to seek the joy in those moments, even in failed attempts at buckeyes and divinity.

Happy 66th anniversary, Mom! I know some years he forgot or you forgot, maybe even both of you forgot, but, believe me, dad remembered this year.

Greg made flowers inspired by your wedding photos.

Dad and I ate fried fish from Longbranch.

We remember you and celebrate in our hearts, embracing the remains of a good marriage and a life well-lived.

Firsts: mom and dad's wedding
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