I was told that all the firsts would be hard. Today is my first Mother’s Day without my mom. Billy Collins, in his poem “The Lanyard,” has captured my own feelings better than I could myself. In it he tells how, as a child, he’d thought that giving his mother a plastic lanyard he made at summer camp was a fair trade for the “breathing body and a beating heart, strong legs, bones and teeth, and two clear eyes to read the world” that he’d received from her. The poem aches with joy and regret and wisdom and has been a comfort to me on this day when my thoughts of my mom are particularly strong. Here’s an excerpt:

And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

I highly recommend that you read the full text of The Lanyard over at the Writer’s Almanac.