April 18

Some people light a candle or have a special meal in remembrance of a lost loved one. I talk about my dearly departed on the internet.

I start getting sad in early March. Even though I’ve had 28 years experience, I still spend a few days or weeks every year wondering why I feel so inexplicably blue, blaming my “mood” on hormones, the weather, or whatever I can come up with until I realize— it’s getting close to April 18. Then I remember.

My adorable Mom & Dad, still in college at McGill in the mid-70's.

April 18, 1988 is the day my mother died. She was 32; I was 9, my sisters 8 and 6, and my brother just shy of his 3rd birthday. I think about her all the time, and have talked to every therapist and friend who will listen about my life with and without her. I seek-out people who I think might be able to comprehend my complicated relationship with life due to my childhood. My radar is always subconsciously on, but it turns out that while many people are lovely and kind and empathetic, and almost everyone has experienced grief, not many women lost their mothers as kids. I am lucky to have my sisters and brother.

Betty Ann Orbach-Cadien, in 1977 (the year before I was born), with Pumpkin the cat.

I like to talk about my mother in real life and on the internet. My fancy-schmancy Typepad blog is full of references to her. I do this because I want the world to know about her. When I share my experience, and talk about my mother, Elizabeth Ann (Betty Ann) Orbach Cadien, it reminds me that she was really a real person who really actually existed in real life for realsies. Sometimes it feels like she didn’t. She was a dream, her death a nightmare, and here I am.

This evening I am alone in a hotel room, Bryce is in Mexico, the girls are home with Grandma Bev, and the rest of my family is spread-out all over North America. Sharing with you, now, is cathartic and comforting and feels safe and good, and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without this outlet.

Today, April 18, 2016, I started an amazing job at an extraordinary company. When I learned my start-date would be today, I worried it would be a mistake, and I’d cry in front of my new co-workers, or be unable to concentrate. But working was a lovely distraction — it’s been nice to have something positive to concentrate on for most of the day.

From now on, April 18th will have some joyful memories and hopeful connotations to help balance the heartache I am accustomed to enduring.

My parents and UNBELIEVABLY CHARMING baby me in Champagne-Urbana, IL, 1979. My mom was already pregnant with my sister!