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A lot of time has gone by, and yet, it really doesn’t feel like that long.

When someone that is close to you and you love dearly isn’t there anymore, there’s usually a void, a feeling of emptiness inside.

This past weekend, we were over at Mom and Dad’s house to visit, and still, to me, it feels somehow like Mom is still there. Perhaps she’s taking a nap upstairs. Maybe she’s downtown running errands, but the house still feels warm and comforting. Like her presence has never left.

I still expect her to come downstairs when we sit down for dinner. I just know she’s going to step out the back door as we sit outside enjoying the weather.

I know she’s really not there.

But if there’s one thing that I am happy for, it’s that Dad has somehow kept the house as it was when she was with us. He, in the usual stoic Koral manner, goes about his business, which includes moving furniture, spot-cleaning and doing a bit of gardening.

“I didn’t plant as much this year…” Dad says with a tired smile.

I help him change the storm windows over to screens, remembering all the years I’ve helped him do it when Mom was there. I look over at the patio, perhaps expecting to see her smiling as she sat watching us while sipping on an ice tea.

Today is her birthday. For so many years, we’d go and celebrate it with her. Usually, there’d be a Zingerman’s birthday cake. The family all around, and the most horribly out of tune rendition of “Happy Birthday” sung that would make her cringe every year.

I do miss her. She’s in my thoughts almost every day. I can’t just pick up the phone and call her.

I miss you, mom. Happy Birthday To You.

– Minh