By DEB GEORGITIS
Mother's Day 1999 was one of the happiest days of my life.
My husband, his brother and brother-in-law and my 15-year-old son, Jeremy, fixed a brunch for myself and the other women in our family -- sisters, sister-in-law, my mom and my husband's mom.
It was a gorgeous May day, with daffodils in full bloom. We celebrated the love of family and the rebirth that spring brought us. That day was flawless.
The next day, with the inevitable twist life can bring, my son's life ended tragically and my peaceful, vibrant world imploded, leaving me in a barren land.
My child, the light of my life, was gone. Now I awoke to face each day with dread and sorrow, grief threatening to overwhelm me.
That year was a blur of dulled emotions and deep despair, but it passed and soon the daffodils were blooming again and Mother's Day returned, along with the anniversary of Jeremy's death.
I struggled through that year and the next. Each year came and went in the inevitable cycle of life, with the May blooms returning. I dreaded Mother's Day, for I was no longer anyone's "mom," just a grieving soul.
I dreaded the anniversary of Jeremy's death, the stark reminder of the deepest loss.
But each of those days came and went. Each was 24 hours long, no more, no less. The anticipation of those coming days was worse than the day itself. They came, they passed and life went on.
Fourteen years have passed since that tragic day, and I still hear Jeremy's voice singing in my heart. My stepsons have had children, and I am now Grammy Deb.
My husband and I have found joy, deep joy, in the life we have patiently rebuilt in the tragic aftermath of losing Jeremy.
I have the first Mother's Day card Jeremy made at age 5, drawn in pencil, the "envelope" stapled crookedly. I cherish it and take it out often, reading the words "I love Mom, dear Mom."
His swim team jacket hangs on the wall of his old bedroom, now my sewing room. His books share the shelf with my sewing supplies. His baseball trophies and soccer pictures hold their place of honor.
The memories, the mementos and his love still surround me, and in this tender time of spring, I smile as I remember the joy that filled my heart for those 15 years.
Despite the anguish I have felt, I have known a mother's love, and nothing is stronger. The horror of Jeremy's death cannot overshadow the joy of his existence.
The rhythm of life continues, and part of it is death. Each May, I relive that cycle, but now joy is my emotion. I see the daffodils, hear the birds and, surrounded by my family's love, I rejoice in life and in my son, Jeremy's, love, and the life cycle continues.
Deb Georgitis is a resident of Kennebunkport.