I had to carry it in a ziplock

Did I ever tell you, that in the wild mess that followed my mothers death, my phone was run over by an Uber?  Perhaps not, that time was really a scene – but in any case, I was on my way to Megan’s house for a family dinner, and as I stepped from the car, laden with dinner, knitting and containers, my phone slipped from my pocket and fell on the ground, awkwardly between the car and the door.

I gathered my things, and then realized I couldn’t reach my phone without closing the car door, and so did that. Naturally, closing the door was the a signal to the driver that I was done, and he rolled forward toward the rest of his life, and over my phone.

I don’t want to get into too many details about what followed so let’s just say that there is no phone that stands up properly to the weight of a Toyota Camry, but the important thing is that when I took it to the Apple store the next day, the dude assigned to solve my  problems said he had only ever seen one phone more destroyed than my phone, and that was dropped down an elevator shaft. He gave me a new one, and the whole thing would have been a non-event, except I am a jerk who cannot learn to sync my phone to my laptop, and so it turns out that it had been a little bit since that had happened.

As the car rolled over my phone, it wiped out the last four months of photos, and with it, the last three months of my mother’s life in pictures. I didn’t have a ton of pictures of her to lose because she was really ridiculously averse to having her picture taken* but I did lose the last birthday we had together.

I know now that It doesn’t matter that much. At the time I was goddamn gutted, and had the hardest time with it, but it turns out that I loved her and she loved me and four months isn’t really that much in the context of a lifetime, but it means that the last picture I have of us sharing a birthday is this one from the year before.

And here it is from the other side.  My brother Ian’s birthday is the 11th. Jen’s is the 12th, Mum’s is today – the 13th, and mine is tomorrow – June the 14th. Gemini babies, and we always had a cake with a lot of candles, and I don’t hardly remember the birthday song without so many names in it.

It is hard to describe what it is like to have her birthday the day before mine, and I’m not going to try. It’s just…hard.  We have always been birthday buddies, and now we’re not and…

Listen, let’s skip the rest.  I’ve heard from so many of you who are grieving, who’ve lost someone, who are forging your own path forward, and I’m going to tell you this on the off chance that it helps even one of you – this year is easier than the last. It doesn’t hurt less, not even a little bit. The pain of her death remains a sharp thing in my life, but I am… getting used to it. The pain knocks me down less, I see it coming more, and it is a predicable hurt that I’m learning how to navigate. Do I miss her less? Oh no. Not a little bit.  I dream of her voice, her hands, her laugh, and I long daily for her strength, insight and guidance. I wish for two more minutes with her, to walk on a beach with her again, and I would be embarrassed to admit what I would trade to have a cup of tea with her, but the reality that it will never happen is starting to feel more like the way the world works than a raging loss. I miss her, but oh, almost everyone loses their mum. It’s the way things are.

So, another birthday of hers, on the eve of another birthday of mine, and I am here to tell you that I miss  her, but that it is probably going to be okay, and that you should go back up your phone right now, in case things get strange with an Uber.

*To my darling girls, take my picture. I’m sorry I said no before now. Take it.  As much and as often as you want. Selfie? I’m up for it. A picture where I look fat? DO IT.  An odd angle where my eyes look strange? KEEP IT. That thing my hair does that looks like the Queen Mum that I try to fix and make worse?  SNAP IT. Anything you want my sweeties. I know now that I’ll never care, and you’ll care a lot. Have at it, and I won’t say a word, thanks to your Gram.

140 thoughts on “I had to carry it in a ziplock

  1. I love that you put so much good into all the world around you every day. Happy Birthsdays to you, your sibs, and your blessed Mum whose love helped make you the Stephanie we all love so much.

    I’m about to lose my Dad, and I can’t imagine (that is not a strong enough word!) losing the last pictures. My instant hope was maybe you’d forwarded some to someone who still has them?

    • Alison – I’m so sorry about your Dad! I hope the memories you’ve made together (and are still making if he’s not left yet) carry you through the days to come.

  2. I’m about to go and spend a precious fortnight in the UK with my gap year daughter. Your post is a timely reminder. Thank you Stephanie.

    • How lovely for you! Our daughter leaves tomorrow for a 6 month work assignment in Italy, though she’ll likely be back a couple of times during the 6 months.
      Guess where we’re going on vacation this year, that wasn’t even on the list?

  3. Oh! Steph, you break my heart and then somehow you make me laugh.

    Happy Birthday! Tomorrow have a nice day.

    Peace and Love

  4. Just as it is OK to take photos of you now, it is OK for you to celebrate and even enjoy your birthday. If you can’t come up with a reason, I expect Mum would want it that way.

    Happy Birthday to all

  5. The only thing rougher than having your mom’s birthday the day before yours is a daughter that is no longer here. Birthdays are not a happy place for me. Tons of hugs Steph, do what brings you peace.

    • Aw, Judy. My only child is a daughter, and I just can’t/don’t even want to imagine my life without her. I’m so very sorry. And I hope there are things that bring you peace.

  6. Happy Birthday! Have a lovely day with your wonderful family and friends. Your Mom, I’m sure, would want that for you.

  7. Have a good birthday. Our lovely girl died before digital cameras and cameras in phones. We had a roll of film that was taken just before she died but we really had no idea what was on it. We had three days wait before we could find out. It was so scary that she might not be in any of them. But she was. In several of them actually. She and her brother have birthdays one day after the other. Their 21st and 18th shared birthday party never happened. But we go on and try to live our best lives. My mother was Gemini too. Gentle soul.

  8. Sending you love, Steph. I know it must be bittersweet to celebrate your birthday, but I’m positive that your mother would want you to celebrate, even as you mourn her absence.

  9. You never forget your mom, she’s with you every day. At least that’s how it is with me. There are days when I would KILL to speak to her, and days when it’s OK. And that’s after 2 years. I also – accidentally – deleted ALL of her voice mails from my phone and have never been able to get them back. In retrospect I think it was a good thing but at the time I was devastated. Good luck and Happy Birthday

    • Is this a bad time to say that I’m still trying to figure out how to live without my mother 21 years later??

      In comments for a post like this I just want to tell the whole Blog I love you and am so blessed to be one of you.

      • 27 years for me, and yes it’s okay to say. Sometimes, even as a 47 year old woman, I need my mom. Still.
        Like you, I’m so grateful to be a part of this. Hugs to you!

        • It’s been almost 32 years since my mother passed away – most of my adult life. I am now past the age she was when she died. I never saw her grow old. Some of it gets easier but when life gets really rough, I need her more than ever. I would give anything for a cup of tea with her to discuss what I should not have done, listen to her voice, her guidance.

  10. When my 22-year-old cousin was killed in a motorcycle accident, I went through all the family photos to find the best ones of him, and I made a slideshow for before the mass, and at the wake, and then did a photobook for the family. When we saw how few pictures there were of some of us, my family had the same realization you did about photos. TAKE THE PHOTO. Who cares if we look our best or resemble mountain trolls? At some point we won’t be here and our family and loved ones will want to remember our faces. It’s important to take the pictures. I dislike the way I look, but I take selfies, both by myself, and with others because it’s important to me I show I was there. IOW, Pics or it didn’t happen. LOL

    As for your grief, my mom’s birthday is the hardest day of the year for me, and hers was over a month before mine. I can’t even imagine having her birthday be the day before. HUGS to you and all your family.

  11. Yes, take the photos. It’s not a piece of your soul, but a piece of your being there. We all need to be there. May your birthday be blessed with so many happy memories that they overwhelm the pain of missing your mom. It won’t stop; mine has been gone for over 20 years and I still yearn for her to talk with about everything. But the good stuff can come to the top and be a little like 1st aid balm to cover the painful stuff. Much love to you, Steph.

  12. Many blessings to you, Steph. I hope these few days bring joy as well as grief. Lots of love from Australia.

  13. Thanks for another amazing post which says so well what many people likely feel but can’t quite articulate.
    Best wishes for your birthday!
    (Will go make an extra bike rally donation now.)

  14. Your comment about allowing photos to be take of oneself by someone who cares enough to want one is bang on. Happy Birthday, Steph.

  15. My Mom died when I was ten. Eleven days before my 11th birthday. [My little brother turned 6 that year, 9 days after my birthday.]

    I still miss her. She never met any of her grandkids. Never saw any of the four kids complete high school. Or me graduate from college.

    I can barely remember her. I turned 70 this year. Still miss her.

  16. Happy birthday.
    RE saving photos you don’t have to sync to your laptop. You can sync to your iCloud account. And also if you have a gmail account the google photos app can sync to your google drive.

    At the least set up you iCloud account and purchase extra space it’s not expensive. And then you will never have to worry. If you want help with this I manage technical support for a software company and have years of expertise. Email me.

  17. My Mom also didn’t like her picture taken. So she usually offered to take the pictures. She died over 40 years ago and I miss her every day. Reading this beautiful post, remembering each picture of her with a strange look (the capturing the squirrel look), each one catching her just as she was about to put something in her mouth…all of them precious now. Your last paragraph to your own daughters made me cry. What a precious thing memories are to us – and while they bring some sadness, they also bring that love back again. Thank you for sharing your warm, caring thoughts. Happy Birthday, too – to you and your Mum

  18. Stephanie, I envy you and other commenters so much for having had a mother that you miss so acutely–pain, grief, mourning, and all.

    My mother was not the kind of mother I could possibly miss. She was forbidding, critical, and distant. With the help of good therapy and years of reflection, I have come to terms with that, and understand what made her the person she was, but I still wish I could have had your kind of mother.

    I suspect that among the crowd on The Blog who miss their mothers, some of you will recognize my mother in their mothers. Your mothers, like mine, made you feel isolated. But you are not alone.

    • Yes, Anna–me too. You are also not alone, though it’s certainly different… It’s lovely to know that there IS this kind of mother/daughter love in the world–that makes my heart so warm–even if that was not, is not, by experience…

    • I’m with you, Anna. When my mum died, I was really quite indifferent. I so enjoy the “family” I have with Steph and crowd.

    • Mine too. A friend recently lost her mum and I heard her say to someone that her mum was her best friend. I can’t even imagine that and envy those who can. But I can revel in my family of Knitters and sympathize with you and others feeling that loss. Happy Birthday and hugs.

    • No, you’re not alone either. Pretty sure I spent a lot of my teenage years mourning a type of relationship with mom that would never happen , so when she died decades later.. I was already done with grieving. Taught me the difference between mourning what wasn’t there to begin with and missing what was. I don’t miss it.
      Hahaha -I have to touch the scissors to post how appropriate

      • Me too. It has taken my entire adult life to accept that my mother’s rage and disdain for me as a child were not my fault, and to recognize the tragedy of her mis-diagnosed mental illness and creeping dementia. The one positive effect is that despite that 2 horrid models (my father was also nasty) I have managed to be accepting and loving as a mother and now grandmother.

    • So sorry Anna. It is painful to lose a mother’s love through death but perhaps more painful to not have felt that love at all.

    • Anna, one more voice to say you are so not alone. I grieve for Steph’s loss, but I also wish I had had a relationship with my mother one tiny bit like hers. The best I can do is try to be the kind of mother for my daughter that I wish I had.

  19. So sorry about the Uber phone mess. The loss of your Mum will get easier as time passes but it will never go away – you don’t want it to. My Dad died six weeks after our wedding in 1975 and my Mum died in January 2001. They would have been 113 years old.
    Please have a HAPPY BIRTHDAY – your Mum is watching over you and your family. Love Pat

  20. Thank you for this (and happy birthday!)

    I lost my own mom in January this year and it’s been unimaginably hard to think of the days and years and decades ahead without her. Knowing that time brings some acceptance is helpful. Thank you.

  21. happiest birthday wishes, however bittersweet they may be.
    And thank you for the photo reminder. We all need more and more of the ones we love- every angle, weird moments, low light, whatever.

  22. Hope you do have a happy birthday, in spite of your mum being gone. It makes things bittersweet, but that is like almost everything in life as we get older…not perfect, but bittersweet.

  23. Happy birthday, Stephanie. Enjoy your day & take very many pics with your family. We’re terrible at taking photos in my family & I hate that I have so few of my dad, now that he’s gone.

  24. Happy birthday, Stephanie! Here is to moving forward!

    BTW, there is a great TED talk on grief and how the response is move forward, not on, because the deceased will always be a part of who you are.

  25. Another thought…and it depends on how you handled the remains…

    In some cultures, there is a day of celebration at the family gravesite. The family goes, cleans up the gravesite, and “shares” a meal with the deceased. The dead are not truly gone until they are forgotten.

    Or watch the Disney movie “Coco”, which is the same basic premise.

  26. So true about the photos. My son offered to take a professional-quality photo of me with my Dad the Christmas before he died. I felt fat and unattractive and told him, “Not this year.” I don’t think I have any adult photos of me with my Dad and that makes me so sad. Let people take your picture. You’ll never be this young again. And you probably aren’t as fat/unattractive/whatever as you think.

    • I was part of a scrapbooking group for a while and we all realized that when you look at a photo of yourself ten years ago you see that you weren’t as unattractive as you thought you were!

  27. My purse was stolen three months after my mum died and I didn’t care at all about the phone, but the texts that were gone forever? That still hurts. Thinking of you.

    • Hugs, that’s really hard.

      And there are apps to back up and restore text messages. It won’t help for the ones from your mom, but it’s good to keep texts from loved ones going forward. I use sms Backup and Restore, for Android. There must be a similar thing for Apple. Hugs and I’m so sorry for your loss.

  28. I can’t tell you the number of times your blog has made me just sob. But it’s a good sob. You are so right on the money! And so right about the pictures. I thought the other day that it’s too bad we can’t have all our special people as adults when we are – parents, children, grandparents, etc.. Then you could get to know them better. But I guess that’s what siblings are for – but I don’t have any and that’s just a shame.

  29. That note at the end? I’m coming around to that, quickly. I’m 57 with a 17-year-old, and as I attend more funerals and memorial services, the “life in pictures” is always my favorite (tho’ hard) part. It occurred to me that there would be VERY few photos of me to share, so now when my son wants a selfie with me, I smile even while mentally gritting my teeth, knowing like you said that someday I won’t care and others will, very much.

  30. Steph, remember: your mom ALWAYS wanted you to have a happy birthday! So does The Blog. (Ladies, take the pictures. Especially the embarrassing ones.)

  31. So I’m in the hearing aid place this week with my husband, who inherited my dad’s hearing aids when he died 2-1/2 years ago and we’ve just now gotten around to making an appointment so he can start to use them. And the lovely woman who runs the place tells us that she tested my husband’s hearing and altered the hearing aids for him without charge in tribute to my dad, whom she considers the kindest man she ever met. I haven’t cried for my dad in months, but I did at that moment. How wonderful for me and for you to be grieving for such sterling parents. I send out loving thoughts to all who are grieving.

  32. Mom’s birthday was two days before mine and her mom’s was three days before hers. All Virgos. Let me tell you, we were quite interesting as a trio. Mom and I used to go to lunch at our favorite restaurant on the day between our birthdays and buy each others’ lunch. We’d usually have to pull out our driver’s licenses to prove that we deserved the “free on your birthday” dessert. It’s been eight years since Mom died and my son usually takes me to lunch for my birthday at the same restaurant. It’s nice but not quite the same. Happy birthday, Steph’s mum! Happy birthday, Steph–and Ian and Jen!

    Smile for the camera!

  33. Happy Birthday Stephanie! A tip from one who’s been where you are … the missing having your mom always in your corner doesn’t go away, but the hurt/pain of it gets less. Hold onto the good memories and love and let everything else go.

  34. Its been 19 years since I lost my mother. Your posts always bring tears to my eyes. It brings back so many memories. Adjusting to Life After Mom is a process and one you don’t understand until you are in it. Better luck with your phone! If it makes you feel any better my phone went into the washing machine with a load of towels. It was sure clean when I found it, but it clearly did not like the front loader!

  35. Happy birthday to you and your family, including your Mum, who I’m sure is with you in spirit. I feel my Julie’s presence here in our apartment all the time, even though she passed two years ago. As long as they’re in our hearts and memories, they’re never really gone.

    My mom’s birthday is the day after my daughter’s. Mom was with me in the delivery room to help me. Afterwards, she said it was the best present I ever gave her.

  36. Yup. I get it. Everything you said. I feel the same. My mom’s birthday is tomorrow, June 15. She was named June for the month she was born in. She passed in 2016. Tomorow she would have been 96 years old! Happy Birthday, Mom! Happy Birthday, Stephanie!

  37. Happy Birthday. My family loves the photos of me “being me”, reading eatting, staring into space without makeup, curly hair a mess. Because tjats me. Not the make up, best dressed going out for a wedding ect. I sobbed in the phone store when I got a new phone and lost my deceased dads last message to me, in fact my eyes are welling even now. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, you might still have bad days but it does get better.

  38. What a beautiful post. So many emotions rise up in me after reading it. So happy birthday and a heartfelt thank you.
    PS I’m never going to say no to photos of me being taken by my family every again.

  39. Many blessings, Stephanie, and happy birthday to all of you!
    With love, and thanks for all you’ve given us over the years.

  40. Happy Birthday to you! I miss when your blog is taken over by a loved one on your bday. Would love to see that come back!

  41. A very happy birthday to you all!

    Thank you for this post. I lost the love of my life 3 years ago and though I had soooo many pictures and videos, I never backed up my computer files. Cue massive hard drive failure, and it’s all lost and my heart ripped out all over again. Like you, I’m taking all the pictures I can and backing up frequently.

    Be at peace and never stop celebrating her birthday with yours.

  42. On a really bad morning in November 2016, a friend quoted a song lyric to me: “As life gets longer, awful feels softer.”

    I still have my mom. But I don’t have very many pictures of her and I together when I was young. She was always taking the pictures, so I treasure any one that shows us together. I love seeing that I was once her baby—not in the trite way that “I’ll always be her baby,” but like her actual baby that she took care of, you know? That’s why I always tell moms to let them be photographed with their kids.

  43. Happy Birthday to you and your lovely family.

    Thanks for the reminder we should not shy away from family photos.

  44. Your Mum was a splendid human being. Yes, it does get a bit easier although we miss them just as much. And it still hurts. But it becomes a bit easier to breathe and get through each day. Happy Birthday to you! (ok, tomorrow)

  45. I’m sorry the birthday causes such pain, but I understand about losing your mom. Mine is still there in body, but hasn’t known who I am for a couple of years. I know many people are dealing with parents with dementia, and it never gets easy. It’s an odd thing to grieve her death at the same time her body still breathes. But I know time will be my friend in this.

  46. I’m sitting here with my eyes streaming. I don’t know your loss yet, as my mother is still here in body, but she has moderate alzheimer’s. Thankfully she still knows us, but the person inhabiting a tiny frail version of my mother’s body is not the woman that guided me through life and was my rock when I became a single mom almost 20 years ago. We’ve never been great at the group photo because, similar to your mum, my mother isn’t a fan of having her picture taken. But your post has inspired me to try harder. As much as I mourn the loss of the woman I had up until 4 years ago, I still want to make the most of the memories we have now. Thank you Steph and thanks to your Mum. Happy Birthday to you both. xo

  47. Happy birthday to all of you. It’s been 39 years since my mom died. Only 52 she was so young. I’ve passed her by ten years now. I still feel the way you do but it’s almost sweet now. Thanks for sharing. And I think I’ll stop saying no to pictures too. Xox

  48. Happy birthday to us, Stephanie. My family also has a cascade of June birthdays, though not all consecutive. My brother and I celebrate in the empty spaces around where our parents’ birthdays fall (fell?). It has been decades — I have now lived significantly more of my life without parents than I lived with them, and like you, I’ve just turned 51 — and I think you have described the long-term grieving process about as well as I have ever seen. Take good care.

  49. As someone who lost their parents 24 and 4 years ago, I agree completely about there being no easy way through grief, other than to take it one day at a time, and ever so gradually, painfully slowly, it gets a wee bit easier.

  50. Oh Stephanie, the note to your girls has me in tears. So many of us – women in particular, and maybe mothers particularly in particular – don’t like having our pictures taken. We never think about what those pictures might mean to the people who love us. I’m glad that’s something you’ve learned, and that your dear mum is still teaching you such valuable lessons.

  51. I read something once similar to this that said that fat women (in particular) tend to not let people take pictures of them and thus remove themselves from memories.
    Since then I have tried to be in more pictures. I have pictures of my grandmother, my great grandmother, my great-great grandmother. In 100 years I want my grandchildrens’s grandchildren to say “that was your grandma? She looks like you!” Even if they think I’m fat.

  52. Happy belated birthday, Stephanie!

    Your post made me cry. My husband of 57 years died 10 weeks ago. I haven’t even begun to wrap my mind around it, let alone accept it.

    My sister’s birthday is today and she’s undergoing chemo for the second time.

    My dad died on my birthday 36 years ago.

    I sometimes think we should not link dates
    to difficult times, but it’s part of a life cycle; it also gives us a measurement for how far we’ve come in recovery. It’s just hard to accept some of the events.

    Best wishes for all of us.

  53. Happy birthday! You make the world a better place, in a lot of different ways. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  54. How very true your post is. I lost my mom December 2017 – she lived with my her last 3 years so I got to see her every day – my first dog (13 years old) in April 2018 – unexpectedly, she was spending the night at the vet in preparation for eye surgery early the next morning – and 10 days later my sister and BFF passed away 7 months after a cancer diagnosis. I don’t remember much about 2018, I’m just glad it’s over! It’s been just over a year, and I’m learning to live with it, but it ain’t easy! Thoughts and hugs to all.

  55. My son (who is well into adulthood now. *Well* into it. Ahem.) would never allow photos to be taken of him without screwing them up somehow. Hid behind someone, made a really stupid not-funny face, whatever. He continued this until a few years after his daughter was born, when I took him aside and in my Most Severe Mom tones told him exactly how his daughter would hate him after he passed away because he’d not allowed any decent pictures of himself. I reminded him how few photos we have of his paternal grandfather, and told him to think about how that makes him feel. My daughter-in-law backed me up, bless her. And now he always lets people get at least one good picture of him – but he still does goofy things for the rest of the photos.

  56. I wanted to pick up the phone today to call my Mom to tell her about the wonderful sewing machine she had given me money for and I finally bought. She has been gone since just before Christmas…I got as far as dialing and the recording that the number was no longer in service.
    It sucks a lot.

  57. I thought I was the only one that saved my mom’s voice messages. I don’t listen to them that often, but she’s there with a “hello honey” when I need to hear it. She died the day after Mother’s Day four years ago.

  58. Yesterday was my mom’s birthday and she has been gone 32 years. I miss her every day and am saddened by all the things we missed together. She was the one who taught me how to knit. She was a spectacular woman. She never understood the women’s movement. She couldn’t understand why women wanted to be equal to men when we are already better and smarter than they are!
    It doesn’t get better..It just gets different.
    I am so sorry for your loss.

  59. Happy Birthday Stephanie! I too rarely have my picture taken. It is time for that to change. Thanks for the motivation.

  60. I am probably close to your mother’s age. My mother died 14 years ago and indeed, the pain recedes. Last month I had a complicated surgery and all I wanted was to have my mother’s arms around me once again and have her tell me I would be fine. And to echo the commenter a little above me, “It doesn’t get better..It just gets different.”

  61. I am sure lots of people feel this way or mention it to you but I have to say it too. You are an amazing woman. I have read your blog,your books, and your instagram. I came for the knitting and stayed for the example of how to live and make the world a better place as an ordinary person. The things you talk about on the blog really strike home with me. I find myself thinking if she can do that, why can’t I do X. Your sharing of your grief has changed my life in small ways. I realized I to am not in pictures. You better believe I have been this last year. Honest ones. Your deep love for your family and friends is a precious commodity and the love you show for so many strangers because thats who you are is truly a gift. Thanks for being, giving me something I can reach toward. Proving that the ordinary is way more special than the celebrity.

  62. I’m glad you have a lot of wonderful birthday memories with your mom. It’s never enough.
    My dad passed away in March. He was very elderly, but it still came as a bit of a surprise. Tomorrow is my first Father’s Day without him. One of my boys asked how I was doing, and I I did get a little emotional.,, but I also told him that at some point, most of us lose our folks.
    I try not to think about what I should have done differently, but what I did enjoy and the fun I had with him.
    I’m glad you’re finding some peace. I hope that’s ahead for me as well.

  63. Stephanie, first, happy belated birthday. Your concluding message hit me very hard. You see, there are very few pictures of me. I don’t like my own image and I escape by being the photographer. Starting tomorrow when we gather for Father’s Day, I will let my daughter take a few pictures of me with the grandkids. Thank you for opening my eyes.

  64. Wishing you a very Happy Birthday. Know that there is not a day that goes by without your Mother there with you. Maybe you don’t see her, but she’s there in every thought you have of her, every choice you make. She raised you, she helped shape the wonderful person you’ve become. She will always be with you. She’s just harder to hug now. And know that your daughters will cherish every photo they have of you, even the ones where you feel less than photogenic. HUGS.

  65. Happy belated birthday. When you appear in a picture with your mom your smile is absolutely luminous. You both look beautiful in the first picture.

  66. A few months after my husband died a lady in town who had lost her daughter told me that the grief would ease up a bit in time because if it stayed the way it was at first it would kill you. I was in tears for a long time (on the way to work, in the shower and sometimes in public even though I hate that). It did ease up but even after 17 years it is still there-I have just adjusted to deal with it. Life will never be the same and I will never get over it but it’s ok now.

  67. How blessed you were to have such a beautiful relationship with your mother. Cherish those memories. Many of us cannot say the same.

  68. Internet hugs going out to you, Stephanie. I love your note to your girls. My oldest daughter regularly greets me as “Pretty Mommy.” She’s 23 years old, so she doesn’t call me mommy at other times. I know that she means it the way the someone else would say, “I love you and I’m so glad to see you and be with you.” I’m pretty sure she is expressing the feeling that I have when I see her–that there is nothing in the world more beautiful to me than her face, her hand, and her soul–and those of her sister. So yes, they need pictures of their parents in everyday ways, as touchstones for that fullness in our hearts that connects us as family.

  69. Photos are not only a two dimensional representation of our physical self but also emotional on another plane. It’s also about how you were feeling when that snapshot was taken. The best feeling is reliving those moments when looking at them.
    But then there is knitting….I lost four important people last year and finally have a finished object. I cried tears of joy and sorrow. Onward to the second sock, too much living and photos ops to miss.

  70. I lost my Mum 2 weeks ago. She was 95, it was not unexpected and I got to read to her for the last 3 days she had, but it is so raw still. I appreciate knowing that time does help, and that one does move forward. Thank you for your wisdom.

  71. For everyone who has lost a loved one there are triggers that stir up the grief wave. Our American friends may not understand this, but Canadians know what I mean when I say “Roll up the Rim”. Yup – BIG trigger for me – both of my parents died in early/mid March (2 years apart) – I spent a lot of time in hospitals with a Tim’s cup in my hand. Almost 20 years later I still hate roll-up-the-rim time and I still miss them terribly. But it is softer.
    Happy Birthday, a little late.
    Chris S in Canada

  72. My mum’s birthday was 19th and mine is 20th so yes, it’s odd. We’ve had one birthday without her in physical form but she wasn’t herself for a few before that so the pain was a bit diluted. I don’t like that she’s not there though and I too have few pictures, even without the assistance of an Uber. I hope you had a good birthday

  73. I tried to save my dad’s last voicemail message. It ‘expired’ as my dad did. Funny that when he departed, he did so quietly, and stealthily, leaving no trace save for a few possessions that he’d ever been here. No scent to his clothing, nothing. I think the message was intended to disappear as well so I wouldn’t keep going back and reminding myself how much I missed him…ok…got to go touch up my makeup now….

  74. My husband died the day before my birthday ten years ago and I still miss him every single day. Your mum must have been amazing to have raised such a special lady as yourself! Thanks for the reminder to allow pictures and to save those pictures.

  75. Happy belated birthday! I know your birthday will not be the same. And that sucks. I hope you find new ways to love and smile and celebrate on your Birthday. Because your birthday is worth celebrating and you are definitely worth celebrating!! I learned to do that for myself. My father passed away on my birthday in 2014. It is never the same but I do my most favorite thing on that day. i gather my favorite people, have a wonderful meal and somewhere in that day I toast my Dad. Love to you.

  76. My birthday is sandwiched between my mom & dads, growing up it was so hard to not have my own birthday. Last year was the first without my mom and while it was incredibly hard everyone was acutely award of it. I’m dreading this August when it happens again and possibly people have forgotten that her birthday should be the day before mine. And I am really dreading the day when the day after my birthday is not a celebration for my Dad. My childhood wish for my own birthday weekend is now my adult nightmare.

  77. You are so right about the photos. When my husband’s brother was killed, all the photos of him were so precious, and I realized that I, like you, have a tendency to make excuses or step out of the frame. It’s not easy to reverse that habit, but I’m trying.

  78. What a great post the day after Fathers Day in the UK. The first one without my dad but I found looking at other people posting photos of their dad strangely comforting. They are having great times just like I had and dads don’t last forever only in your heart. Jo x

  79. Stephanie,

    First and foremost, happy birthday!

    Second, I agree with your Mum about pictures. I despise having my picture taken. My daughter got married Saturday, and I am in about a million pictures, I think. What’s different is that my Dad passed. Pictures are good for those left behind. And even if it’s not a glamor shot, it might be a giggle shot. And that’s OK too!

    Blessings for your next trip around the sun!

  80. It’s been ages and I’m only just reading this hoping to have heard you’re okay on June 17th after the shooting in Toronto. And now I see you’re in that rotten year of firsts. I’m so sorry about your mum. I’ve lost both parents and I think mom is the harder of the two. You’ll get thru it. But you never get over losing Mum. (((((Hugs)))))

  81. I miss my mom too. It’s been five years and it’s still hard to believe. I go places with her in my dreams and she woke me up once telling me to go to the dr. She jiggles the bed like she always did to wake me up. We are never without our mothers they are always there. Thank you

  82. I’ve never commented here before, but this post was so damn touching and made me cry like a baby. Thank you for always sharing your heartfelt emotions with us here on your blog. I know it isn’t always easy to do. Hugs from a fellow knitter. Oh, and Happy Belated Birthday.

  83. You’ve made me rethink me getting my picture taken. Like your mom, I hate my picture taken and will hide or delete any picture of me I find, but no more. For my children I will smile at the camera now. My mother has been gone over twenty years and there are still days I wish I could talk to her and get her advice. I’m thankful for all my memories of my mother.

  84. Thank you for the honesty with which you have been writing about grief during the last year. Society puts so much pressure on us to pretend like everything’s OK. All of us who have lost mothers know it’s *not* OK and we need to stand together. And thank you for the reminders to take pictures and to back them up and to allow our families to take pictures of us even if it’s not a good hair day!

  85. I’m so sorry, Steph. I lost my mom in January, so I understand. And I lost it reading your lovely post. I miss her so much. I love those photos you posted. I hope it helps, being with your family and getting through the birthdays together.

  86. This month my mother will have been gone 24 years. I have now lived longer without her than I lived with her. I describe it to people who are still deep in grief like a wound that at first is so very open and raw. Then it scabs over and doesn’t hurt as bad. And eventually it’s a scar that will always be there, and you will absentmindedly… every day… rub your finger across it and pause. Pause to remember … but it doesn’t hurt as bad. I can talk about her now without crying. I even laugh and smile as I tell a story about her. Time doesn’t heal the wound completely, but it becomes bearable. ❤️

  87. My mom completely refused to allow anyone to ever take her picture. Be glad you have photos of your mom, even if a few months are missing. Maybe someone else has photos of that time that they can send to you.

  88. The loss colors everything from then on, but at some point I learned to seek out the pain, like a bruise I have to touch to make sure it’s still there.

  89. First Happy Birthday (mine is 6/11), 2nd Thank you. Along with so many other I have been a faithful reader for years, but this last year since you lost your Mum has had me paying closer attention to your posts due to my family losing my brother last July. Followed shortly after with my ex-mother in laws death just 1 1/2 weeks after my brother, then my best friend cousins husband, another close cousin, and finally my ex-father-in-law just a day before Thanksgiving. When my brother was killed last year. I found myself experiencing the same journey you have written about this last year and like you I have considered bargaining, trading, switching, anything and everything that could possibly think of to give us even a few minutes back with him. His loss was HUGE to us just as this type of loss is with any family., in our case 2 of his 3 children recently had babies and he didn’t even live to see their first birthdays, although they looked for him for weeks after his accident they no longer remember. They know who he is in pictures if you ask, but that is it. I have started a book of stories from family members that we will start reading to them about when the girls are a bit older, our hope is to keep him in their hearts as they growl. My parents have not even started recovering we have no way to help it will just be time. After his accident it took me a week to get them packed so we could travel from Oregon to California to deal with the business at hand. I seem to have become everyone’s anchor in all this for my parents, his 3 children & grandchildren, to many nieces, nephews, & cousins to count, plus so many friends and co-workers that feel the need to check in, but don’t want to impose on our parents or his children. I still have not gone a single day since he died without someone calling about him trying to figure it all out. I am not sure what scares me more the day no one calls or that they may never stop calling about missing him. Then there is the part that I don’t think anyone of them really remember that I lost my brother, my brother and I did not appear to be very close in our later years, but the truth is that from the time he was born we were each other’s confidant and partner in crime, i know without any reservation what he wanted for his memorial, his children, including our parents. I have been holding my own for almost a year now, he will have been gone a year in July. I finally hit complete and total rock bottom and am still trying to figure our how to cope and get a grip on myself before I have to face the family in a few weeks at my daughters bridal shower, she is getting married in October. The catalyst for my downfall was my birthday on 6/11. Many, Many years ago my birthday rolled around and my brother didn’t have much money, he also needed new tires or new brakes for his motorcycle at the time. So on my birthday he called me to wish me a Happy Birthday he was in California and I was in Arizona. During the call he asked if I wanted to know what he got for my birthday. I told him I could wait, well this went back and forth for a bit till I ended up giving in and letting him tell me. He proceeded to tell that he bought whatever part for his motorcycle that he needed for my birthday. Well that was the start of us buying a gift for ourselves on the others birthday his birthday was in December and I ignored it and now my birthday has passed and I didn’t get my phone call from him to tell me what he bought for my birthday. Due to circumstances I have had no time to deal with his death due to everyone else’s needs, I have know since the beginning that at some point I.would face it. Well I think my time is now due to my birthday. Not sure how to do it almost a year later, but your birthday post has made me realize that even if I don’t have the time to deal with his death I also have to because I am out of time. Your realizations due to the birthdays and the loss of your phone have given me hope and confidence that i will get through this. I have a husband who couldn’t be more supportive. He has been wonderful. Their are so many ways you have given me hope about all of this from your post and I simply want to say Thank you for sharing your world the way you do. Good night and bless you and yours.

  90. It’s a wonderful picture. I think birthdays and holidays are the worst after losing a parent. My mom and I were born on the same day. I know what you mean. For me, going to the ocean helps. I hope you feel better. Maybe some knitting…?

  91. I reread the essay and cried again. (I still can’t bear to have my picture taken. I know it’s a form of vanity, but I choose not to battle that fault.)

  92. Wow. I’m one of those who refuses pictures taken of me because of the way I think I look. I have four daughters, ages 18-24, who have given up trying to get a pic with me. Thanks for the slap up side the head. It’s not all about me you know!

  93. I have looked forward to your posts daily for years now.
    I hope you’re okay — we haven’t heard from you for weeks now.
    I understand the commitments, but selfishly, I miss hearing from you.
    Hope you’ll be back soon!

  94. Happy belated birthday. Life goes on and you’ve stated grief so beautifully. My dad has been gone for 6 1/2 years now. It is easier, and I still miss him!

  95. I wonder if you still have that phone. Earlier this year, the CBC did a story about a woman who works magic with broken phones. What a lovely thing if those photos could still be recovered. Here’s the link (or just google ‘CBC lady who fixes phones’ if you’re like me, and nervous about clicking just any old link): https://www.cbc.ca/news/apple-can-t-help-how-a-molecular-biologist-trained-stay-at-home-moms-to-recover-lost-iphone-photos-1.5079639
    Best of luck, and I hope you had a fabulous birthday.

  96. Hi Steph,
    Happy Birthday! Regarding the pics- any chance you texted some of those pics to her? Maybe you still have her phone stored away somewhere and can access them?? Maybe there’s no chance, but…..you never know.

  97. Hello!

    I just stumbled across your blog in doing some research on a downed bomber plane in WWII, and it’s two of seven survivors, Sgt. J. A. McPhee and F/O A. E. Steeves, both of whom became POWs. The crew had successfully completed the bombing of an oil refinery on their first flight out, but they went down in the northwestern area of Germany on their second outing, 21 Nov 1944.

    Could the crew leader possibly have been your grandfather, (then Sgt., later Lt. Col.) James Alexander McPhee?

    If so, and if you are willing, I’d love to connect about this. I’m writing an article on the crash and survivors, and if I have the right gentleman, I’d be interested to know if there is information on this crash in the logbook you mention in another post.

    Drop me a note if you’re at all interested. If you’re not interested, that’s totally okay too!

    Aurora Feletti, Communications Volunteer
    The Hon. W. H. Steeves House Museum
    c/o Steeves Family Inc.
    40 Mill St.
    Hillsborough, NB
    E4H 2Z8
    (506) 734-3102

  98. I came looking for your always-worthwhile pieces for Canada Day (I stole part of one for a sermon, one year, to remind a USA congregation that our country is not very good at a lot of things–on July 4). But I am very glad to re-read, or re-re-read this. I am about to go to my aunt’s funeral; the last of my mother’s generation, and many memories come back. Especially take pictures of the adults while they are in their prime (anyplace from 30 on)–kids photos are wonderful; but I really treasure seeing what my parents and grandparents looked like when I was a kid.

  99. Hi,

    I am not new here but I don’t share much. I also know that there are too many voices here for me to read so, if you ever get down this far and read my message it will truly mean something to me. Especially if you respond, (which I don’t ever expect because you are a human and have a life to live), in which case I will fall off my chair and run around showing everyone that my favorite knitter and author messaged me.

    Anyway, I am writing here because I have not lost what you have lost, not yet, but your little note to your daughters, touched me. I don’t like my photo taken even when I think I look really nice. Because a photo captures a moment, not movement where a person is a person but that singular instant where you look fatter than you are or your eyes are doing some weird thing etc. And I hate the way I look in photos. But you inspired me to make sure that my family, who loves me, will have photographic memories of me. So, thank you.

    I will make sure they all know who inspired the change in me, my favorite knitter and writer, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Again, thank you.

  100. I have cancer that is, more likely than not (hey – miracles happen right?), terminal. The end of your post has me welled up thinking of my daughter. I will let her take my picture and encourage her to back up her phone.
    Thank you for your lovely sensitive posts.

  101. I hope you had a wonderful birthday Stephanie! I’m sorry for your loss; I just lost my dad in May and I’m still reeling. His birthday and his memorial will be next week and to say I’m not prepared is an understatement. But reading your blog helps because I know I’m not the only one and it’s a comfort.

    Lots of love from Washington state!

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