I wake up this morning and realize it’s May! Always one of my absolute favorite months of the year! It is when the calendar turns and the colors of the flowers become vibrant.

The lilacs start to bloom and their fragrance brings me back to the day I brought my beautiful baby girl home to meet her older brother. It is 1985. How excited he was to meet her!

May 1st. One of my best and blessed days ever. I recall the days of Care Bears and My Little Pony cakes and moving on to funfetti cakes and cheese pizza, Dani’s favorite choice for a birthday dinner.

Memories continue to flood my mind. The times strangers would interrupt our walks to tell me how absolutely beautiful my baby girl was. There were years of shiny new bikes to ride, birthday parties in the park and a favorite day of “Burger King” parties with her friends playing outside on the 3 little pieces of playground equipment (this was before McDonald’s Play Place).

I love the photo and memory of five girls in tie dye shirts at the age 10, finding the one mud puddle in the yard and having an absolute blast celebrating Dani. As years rolled by there were celebrations of Dani’s birthday and her sister’s college graduation party all rolled into one fantastic family and friend-filled afternoon. So many May 1st days filled with love, laughter and joy.

All this abruptly stops when today, for the fourth time actually, this first day of May brings about the pain and loneliness of a momma not being able to kiss, hug or call her daughter to wish her a happy birthday. No more stories of how she celebrates with her friends. No more creative ways for us to celebrate her birthday. No more birthday cakes carried on a plane and no more airline tickets bought for siblings to spend a few days connecting with their sister, celebrating their love and making memories.

Dani would be 37 today.

Today. Just another day to wake up and miss the face that would light up a room, miss the contagious laugh that would burst out of nowhere reminding you of her presence or the text and phone call that doesn’t happen.

Today, I am still a “33 Forever Mom.”

What does that mean? It means even though this day comes every year, here on this earth my firstborn daughter will always remain 33 Forever.

If you “get” this pain, I am so sorry. It is a pain I would wish on no one. A wound so deep and raw that each year it breaks open again to remind you of what you had and what you lost.

I have no magic words on how to navigate this journey. No wisdom on how to get through the loss. It is tragic and surreal. It is the fear hidden deep within every parent, praying it doesn’t happen to them. It is the tear in their eyes when they try and put themselves in your shoes and express their condolences and love. It is the text messages, phone calls and cards you receive on a day when you know they should be sent to your child instead. It is a dream you want to have or a song you want played. It is hoping you could sleep through this day and just wish it away. Ultimately, it is the price you pay for loving someone so deeply.

And that price is worth everything to have been able to love and cherish each and every memory of my girl.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Dani. May you ride unicorns and rainbows and swim with the mermaids and dolphins. And may you remember how much this 33 Forever Mom and her tribe misses and loves you, today, tomorrow, forever and a day.