by Shadra Bruce

After my mom died in 2006, I was lost. I had talked to my mom on the phone every single day, most days more than once. I told my mom about my kids, my school, my work, my life…everything. When we lived in the same town, we saw each other almost daily; when I moved away the phone became our vital connection, and we both counted on it. I will always cherish the last few weeks of mom’s life, when I was able to be there and be with her almost every day. It took years for me to stop reaching for the phone to call mom and tell her something exciting about the kids, and my heart still aches at the loss.

I was not left entirely alone, though. Tiana and I are lucky enough to have a large, close family. But one person really took over the role that my mom would have played in my life, and I will be forever grateful for the relationship I have with her: my Aunt Lori.

Lori is my mom’s younger sister – 16 years younger, actually, and only 5 years older than me. Growing up, she was the youngest child and I was the oldest granddaughter. We competed for attention and quite often had a tough time getting along. There remained between us a sort of competitive streak or level of ambivalence even as young adults. I stole attention from her dad, my Papa, and she stole attention from my mom, her sister.

When my mom died, though, it was Lori who called me almost every day to make sure I was ok. We spent a lot of time crying together and grieving together and healing together. Somewhere along the way, whatever leftover childish jealousies we had of each other melted away. Now, she’s my Auntie-Mom, and it’s her I turn to when I need advice, want to brag about my kids, or need the occasional shoulder to cry on. Because we’re close in age, we also talk about being moms and women in our 40s and relationships and all the other things that sisters and girlfriends would enjoy talking about. She fill multiple roles for me.

I am so thankful for the relationship I have with Lori, my Auntie-Mom. She has soothed my aching heart and a great job of filling the gap left by the loss of my mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, Lori. Love you!!!