I do not need a calendar to know the day Taylor died. I can smell it coming, I can feel it in the air, I would know it if I’d been asleep for six months. Anniversaries mark another year of grieving, another year Taylor did not live to see, another year since I’ve held her in my arms.

The loss of a child leaves a hole in a family that cannot be filled. I miss Taylor’s place in my home and in my heart every day. I think all the time about the beautiful child she was and the extraordinary woman she would never have the chance to be. I mourn her lost opportunity as well as my own.

As much as I may try to brace myself for the onslaught of painful memories that come at this time of year, I have also learned that grief marches to the beat of its own drummer. Some years, the anniversary is tolerable, but hearing a certain song on a random day could bring on a wave of unexpected sadness. Other years, the anniversary magnifies the loss and makes me feel like it is happening here and now all over again. I try to remember that while mourning is devastating, somehow life does embark on a new normal.

Loss has not meant the end to my happiness. The sun has shone, I have laughed, I have loved, my tears have slowed. I have let my family and friends in and let them show me how much meaning there is in my life. The anniversary can be excruciating, but is also a time for loved ones to be together, share the grief, tell the same old funny stories, and cherish the gift of having each other. Even a painful anniversary can remind you of how far you and your family have come.

Taylor gave us 16 beautiful years and enough love to last a lifetime. I hold that love dear every day and even though another anniversary marks another year without her, I am and will always be Taylor’s mother. Our love story continues.

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