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Rudolph with her mother, Annie, in the summer of 2000. Supplied photo

Women step up to fill a gap after loss of mother

This January marked 18 years since my mom, Annie, passed away from breast cancer.

My mom and I were close. We talked about everything. She was my rock. She was my encourager. She was my cheerleader. She was my everything. I knew no one would ever replace her completely.

After the funeral I sat on the living room floor surrounded by my girl cousins. I expressed how scared I was having to move forward. I was scared not having a mom. Who was I going to talk to when I had a serious boyfriend? Who was I going to talk to when I was pregnant? Who would I talk to when planning my wedding? Who was I going to go to when I couldn't figure out life? Who was I going to celebrate life moments with? I always went to my mom. Through tears my one cousin who was about 8 months pregnant grabbed my hand and said, "you can call me."

I did call her about nine years later when I was struggling with being a new mom with Everett and figuring out breastfeeding.

I didn't know at the time how small moments would slowly fill a gaping hole. When my mom was in her last weeks, her friends from high school came to the hospital. They sat, surrounding me with their love. One gave me a broach — a broach my own mom had given her friend's mom.

My grandmother had passed away when my mom was about 4 years old. My mom had given this broach to her friend's mom on Mother's Day because my mom said she didn't have a mom so she would give it to her. This broach means the world to me.

Growing up, my mom and I would talk about what it felt like not knowing her mom or not having a mom. At the time, to me, they were just stories. Little did I know they would be needed for my future. The broach means just because we don't have something doesn't mean we can't enjoy other parts. It means that people don't replace people but they help fill a gap.

Every woman in my life I view as a part of my mom. Ones I go to when I need help. Ones who celebrate with me. Ones who help me be a better mom. Ones who laugh with me. Ones who knew my mom before she was a mom and when she became a mom. Ones who come to events for my kids. Ones who are always there. Ones who love me unconditionally.

My mom will never be replaced but the gaping hole is smaller because of women in my life. I take little pieces of women in my life, putting them all together makes up a mom for me.

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