On Monday, I gave a presentation at my dad’s computer club. I was chatting before it started with one of the women in the room and I couldn’t say how it came up, but she said to me, “We knew your mom. She was wonderful.” I had a fleeting moment where I thought I might burst into tears on the spot, but I swallowed them back and agreed, “Yes, she was.”

Today would have been her 73rd birthday. I wore a necklace that we bought together in St. Thomas on some one of our family trips — I think maybe a vacation as the year changed from 2000 to 2001 — and a pair of earrings that belonged to her, and all day long I’ve been thinking of her.

I know it’s okay that she’s gone — she would have been five years farther into her Alzheimer’s diagnosis if the pancreatic cancer hadn’t taken her and she wouldn’t have liked that at all — but I miss her. She loved Christmas and the holidays. She would have been baking up a storm, buying presents, and decorating like mad already and my wishy-washiness about where I was going to be for the next month would be driving her crazy.

But I made Christmas cookies with my niece today — sugar cookies, the roll-out kind — and my mom would have liked that a lot. It wasn’t deliberate. I didn’t think, “hmm, what can I do on my mom’s birthday that would please her if she knew about it?” and then decide to bake cookies with my niece. But if I had tried to do something that would please her, I probably couldn’t have picked anything better. And there’s something truly satisfying about that.

Happy birthday, Mom.