2012 – 1968 = 1

They say that everyone grieves differently and that you can’t put a number on mourning.  Well, I can.  I know first hand that 43 days is not enough time to get over the loss of a loved one.  And I also know that 43 years was not enough time to spend with them.

My last photo with my mother.Today I turn 44 but it feels like the first birthday I’ve ever had.  I’m convinced that it will be the worst birthday of my life.  That’s because 43 days ago cancer took my mother.

The nerves are too raw, the lymbic system still in disarray.  I’m certainly not ready to face my first birthday without the woman who gave birth to me, 43 days is just not enough time.  The weight of that heartache is nearly overwhelming.  I would gladly trade places with Atlas right now, clearly the weight of the world is a feather compared to this.

But I know that it doesn’t matter if it’s 43 days or 4300 I’ll never be more ready for this day than I am now.  Part of me has been trying to figure out how to avoid having this birthday altogether but that isn’t possible.  I can’t avoid the year of firsts – the first birthday, the first Thanksgiving, her birthday, the list goes on.  All of the milestones that used to mark togetherness and family will, at least for a year, mark sadness and loss.

Lonely sonSo how will I cope?  I’ll go to work and do my job.  When I come home I’ll check my e-mail and watch TV.  I’ll do what I always do.  At some point this week I’ll go visit her grave.  Of course I’ve been saying that for two weeks now.

This weekend I’ll go to my childhood home and share a birthday party with my soon-to-be 12 year old nephew.  If the last year has taught me anything it’s that watching your family pass is made easier when you can see their love in those who remain, especially the children.  I see my mother’s love every time I see my nieces and nephew.  And it makes me smile.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less
Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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