Making a wish on the birthday candles . . .

Tomorrow I will be thinking about an Iowa farm girl who grew up to be a wife, mother, teacher, homemaker, accountant, seamstress, crafter, quilter, supreme cookie-baker, grandmother, magazine article-writer, church organizer . . .

I could go on and on.

Tomorrow would have been my mother-in-law's 76th birthday. We lost Darlene to brain cancer a little over a year ago. I miss her so very much. I'd love to tell her about my latest knitting project. I wish I could share the funny things her grandson says or tell her how he did at the swim meet or send her a video of him playing viola -- something she never got the chance to see him do. I know my husband misses sharing his latest photo projects with her or talking sports or getting her take on current events. I wonder what she, a longtime suburban St. Louis resident, would have to say about the national spotlight on Ferguson, MO; she probably would have been speculating like everyone else on when the grand jury findings would be announced. My brother-in-law surely would have enjoyed chatting her up about the Watergate books he was reading earlier this year. And she would have gotten a kick out of all of the pictures he's posted on Facebook of his dog visiting birthday cake sculptures around St. Louis in commemoration of the city's 250th birthday.

It would be so wonderful to ask her what we should do to help my father-in-law try to move forward in his life; I bet she would know just what to say or do to convince him. I realize that for how much I miss her, it it is a mere shadow of the loss that must feel suffocating in its darkness for him. He seems so lost without her. She had such a knack for taking care of him. For taking care of all of us, really.

A week from tomorrow, I will be thinking about her again, and what it would have been like if she and I could have continued our Black Friday shopping tradition. I recall plotting our bargain-hunting strategies on Thanskgiving afternoons, the newspaper circulars spread out around us as we clipped coupons and made our lists of must-have doorbusters.

So I'll think about her on her birthday. And Black Friday. And I'll think about her every day in between, and each day after.

"Here is one of the worst things about having someone you love die. It happens again every single morning." -- Anna Quindlen

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