10 years.

A decade.

Every October it creeps up on me. It shouldn’t, but it does. It’s the month with the most birthdays of my favorite people. I’ve done the math. It’s the most.

It’s also the month my mom died. Too early and after too long, and not long enough.

But here we are, a few days into October, and here I am. Surprised and not surprised at all.

After she was gone we were palpably minus one in the house, but her body was still there. In my sister’s living/dining room, converted into a hospice room, she was there and she wasn’t. We had to wait for them to come get her. So we watched Glee. It was the Britney episode. We were late to watch it, because we were busy. And suddenly we weren’t.

We were busy doing awful things. Caring for our own babies while easing, we hoped, our mother’s pain. I look back in awe at the women we were ten years ago, and in awe of what we’ve done since.

We didn’t stop. She never stopped. She put one foot in front of the other. She made leaving a house, whether across town or the country, an adventure instead of sad. She worked her ass off, and did hard things, and found plenty of reasons to laugh while doing those hard things. She cleaned the houses of our friends’ families and never once allowed us feel shame about it. She ate books for breakfast. She was an incredible cook and hostess, and a terrible dancer (sorry, mom) but she played albums at full volume and called us to dance solos. She became a straight-A college student when I was in junior high. She became a teacher. She had always been a teacher, but she finally formalized the role in her 40s. She changed lives—her friends’ and her students’ and ours.

She was my mom, and she was always there until that October night 10 years ago.

Every day without a mom is one too many. Every day, I do my best to be half the mom she was.

And every October, it creeps up on me. The memory. The loss. That Glee episode.

I’m watching it on Netflix now.

I’m so sad she missed it. It’s really good. And I’m sure she’d be glad we found a reason to laugh that awful night ten years ago.