Five years ago my mom died. She had a rare and brief illness. My trust in life itself was shaken. Chris had been gone for five years, and now my mom was gone too?

I was pregnant at the time and at every ultrasound, at every listen to my baby’s heartbeat, I expected something to be off. The wariness lasted well after I gave birth to two healthy boys. It continues to this day.

I still hurt every time I see my mom’s picture or wear her old sweaters, or bake chocolate chip cookies. Just being a mom hurts, at times, without her here to guide me. Yet every morning I wake up and love my kids and my partner.

I know that at any moment I could lose them. I know I might not be able to handle that kind of heartbreak again. I also know there is no other way. To keep living I have to love and endure more loss.

I look to my mom for inspiration. After Chris died, she eventually kept going. I wish I could ask her how. If I were to guess, I would say you follow one second to the next. And hold close those seconds spent with loved ones.