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One Year Without You

Today was not what I had thought it would be. I anticipated feeling low, hollow, and having the unpleasant reminders of what it felt like to see my mom take her last breath. And maybe it would have played out like this had I not absentmindedly scheduled our anatomy ultra-sound for this morning. Maybe it was subconscious, maybe it was a heavenly intervention. Either way, it has changed the way this day has been lived and soon to be remembered.

It has been a whirlwind of a day witnessing the little miracle growing inside me. And on the other hand, I have been brought to tears at various moments knowing that the first person I want to call isn’t around. We decided to take it slow this morning, savoring the moments of the baby on the screen, having the tech fold up the special news for our eyes to see later, and enjoying a breakfast fit for three. We laughed and cried and kept the guessing game going for a short while. We strolled the lakefront on this unusual but welcomed beautiful warm day and I felt my moms presence… her embrace was overwhelming as the trees rustled in the wind… she told us we would feel her and see her in those moments, and I most certainly did. We found a bench to rest our legs and opened the envelope to read “It’s a Girl”. We wept and hugged and wept some more. And in some strange way, I felt like I got a piece of her back. It is hard to find the words to honor my mom. With so much to say, I find myself speechless. And so, in this most vulnerable state, I am sharing on her one-year passing the eulogy I wrote and read for her. It was by the far the hardest thing I have ever written and I am proud to share this with you. Today has been hard, but I have been reminded of how it is so beautiful… in death… in life… and in all moments in between. Scroll down to read on…

By trade, our mother was a teacher, but her teachings stretched far beyond the classroom. It was her nature, her true calling in life to aid in the transformation of minds and hearts. In everything she did, there was a lesson to be learned. From her patience to her bleeding heart, to her selfless spirit, to her unwavering faith. Science, arithmetic, literature… she placed an emphasis on it all, but what she taught us to place true value in was beyond textbook. 

What good did you do today? How did you pay it forward?

Did you make someone smile?

Did you live by example? 

She spoke truth and lived out her truth. Our mom gave a piece of herself to everyone she met – her students, friends, family…even strangers couldn’t walk by without her sharing a wide-toothed smile…what a special, special gift that is, to be so unaware of the beauty that you share with so many. 

The pieces of herself that she left behind, even the most minute, I hope they have left a profound impression… I hope you feel her shake you when you have the opportunity to share kindness, to spread happiness, to do more good in this world. Because if our mom taught us anything, she taught us that life is too short not to act. Act justly. Act humbly. Act silly. Act faithfully. 

In the beginning, our mom lost her ability to drive. Then she lost her ability to walk. Then, quite slowly, she lost her ability to move on her right side. Eventually, she lost her ability to form comprehensive speech. 

Cancer then, stole her mind, consciousness, and ultimately her life.

Do you know, that not once, not once over the course of this 20-year journey did we ever hear her say why me? Not once did we ever hear her complain or wallow in the cards she was dealt. Now, I’m sure she had her days…but even then, she stood tall and strong, and taught us that these heart-wrenching occurrences in life should not break you but BUILD you. These scars…just a mere cut on the head to remember it all by. Her saying that seems to have taken permanent residence in my mind, is this – “in all things be thankful, in all things be grateful”. Seizures, craniotomies, chemotherapy, radiation, and countless side effects … and still, merciful. No words can describe the cyclone of strength that was our mother. 

Loss both takes and gives. It has taken the best person we’ve ever known. Our best friend in life. The person whose smile and laugh made everything right in this world and whose embrace silenced all anxieties and fears. Whose encouragement and cheers made us feel like we could move mountains. The woman who championed every dream no matter how big or small.

What I’m left with, what we are left with, is her life lesson (from her biggest lesson plan to date). Her teachings, better yet, her legacy of infinite love and enduring faith. And if we can live this life loving as much she did – people, places, experiences, moments- if we can love every minute, savor every second of this crazy life we have with as much frenzy, force, and enthusiasm… and strive to sustain as deep and powerful of a faith that she had, I would have to humbly say, that we would all get an A in her book. 


  1. Danielle on at 7:37 PM

    Gorgeous words! Crying as I read them!

  2. Patricia on at 9:21 PM

    Absolutely amazing that you are having a baby girl & found out today of all days! Mom’s divine intervention. The eulogy-priceless. You handle her loss with such grace. I miss her beauty. I wish she were here to enjoy your precious gift coming soon.

  3. Abby Jane on at 9:28 PM

    So beautiful! Loved reading about your day and your sweet baby girl! Your mom’s eulogy is so beautifully written Maria. She was and is an angel! You are so blessed to have learned how to mother from one of the best — you too will be an amazing mother to your baby girl! Baby girl!! Ahh! I’m so happy for you! Love you so much! Xoxo

  4. Steph Cosmas on at 7:49 AM

    Beautiful, Maria! Congratulations on the baby girl to come!

  5. Lucy on at 11:37 AM

    Your words would make your mom so proud! As I am reading I am crying thinking of her and how wise she was! I miss her sooo much! I miss her beautiful words to me and the laughter we shared! I was so lucky to know her!

  6. Nancy Taylor on at 10:48 AM

    So beautifully written Maria! Your mom would be so proud. Such an incredible tribute of a beautiful soul.

  7. Paula McLoud on at 8:18 AM

    Maria, how beautifully written and what a wonderful legacy to your mom. She would have loved to have read this and been so very proud of you. ?

  8. Bridget on at 8:50 AM

    Beautiful Maria! Your mom was the first to hold your baby girl. So excited for you and Evan!