Being 26.

Tomorrow I will turn 27 years old. Tomorrow I will be older than my mother ever was. My mother died at age 26, just 15 days before Christmas in 1994. For the past 18 years, I have remembered this immortalized 26 year old version of my mom, and for the past 18 years she has been older than me...like a mom should be. But tomorrow, I will be older than any photo could possibly portray her. Tomorrow I will start the years in which I look back on her beauty just as much as I look back on my own. Tomorrow I will no longer be able to say "I hope I look just like my mom when I grow up."

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27 on July 27th. My Golden Birthday. It's going to be an amazing day. But before I start my 27th year, I felt I needed to properly say goodbye to my 26th year. This year has been so meaningful to me. Being 26 myself, I almost felt like I could channel my mother's love and beauty and kindness straight from my memories...in a way that I couldn't before because, well, I was too young. I always looked up to her and always admired her. I loved when family friends would recount stories about her. And I loved when my parent's friends from the past would see me all grown up and say "Wow, you are your mother's twin!" all the while barely being able to glance away because the similarities were so striking it was like they were looking at a ghost. I rejoiced when I would overhear them say to each other at family picnics, "I seriously can't believe how much she looks like Paula..." There is no faster way to bring a smile to my face than to tell me I look like my mom.

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So, 26...thank you for giving me my dream-come-true. A whole year of looking just like all the photos I grew up memorizing. I'll be sad to let the aging process continue, but I am so grateful for all the years I am given to spend with my family and friends. I am grateful for the years I had with my mom, grateful to be able to hold the memory of her snug in my heart, and grateful to love her still.

(left) me   //     (right) my mom

(left) me   //     (right) my mom

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