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Reflecting on transitions in family life, loss, and love.

Dear Mom, 

It’s been 1,075 days since I last saw you. 1,075 days without you calling me sweetheart, 1,075 days without your soothing hugs, 1,075 days without exchanging an “I love you.” For someone who’s only lived 6,012 days in her life, 1,075 days is a long time without a mom. 

Everything is different now. Jonah went off to college, so it’s just Dad and I living together. The house went from four to two people so fast. We don’t have enough players for our favorite board games anymore, like Monopoly and Clue, so we watch a lot of movies instead. Dad and I only celebrated one night of Chanukah this year and have recently been much less religious. He says that if God is real, you would still be here. 

Since Dad leaves for work at 6:00 a.m. and comes home around 7:00 p.m., finding a ride is a constant source of stress. Every time I have field hockey practice, SAT prep, or another commitment, I must rely on my friends or their parents to drive me. No matter how happy they are to help, as a typically independent person, it just makes me feel incapable and embarrassed. 

Luckily, I got my permit when I turned 16 and should be getting my license this April. It kills me that you haven’t been here for milestones like these and won’t witness the even greater ones to come. It’s in these moments I miss you most. After I’ve done something I know you’d be proud of, or would just love to hear about. When I became captain of the field hockey team, when I handled friendship drama in a way that proved my moral high ground, or when I had my first kiss. I used to talk to you about how I wanted to get married eventually, to have a baby girl and love her as much as you loved me. I would dream of my daughter and I having the same special bond as us. You, me, and her would all be best friends. How is it that you won’t see me walk down the aisle or meet my children? 

Even when it feels like my life has been turned upside down, I think about the things that haven’t changed in the past 1,075 days. I still love sports, learning about new cultures, and spending time with my friends. I am still academically motivated and am working towards my lofty goals. Every morning, I still put on the silver bracelet we made from my fifth-grade jewelry-making kit. My favorite movies are still the ones that you introduced me to or loved yourself, like Mamma Mia. I still love and prioritize my family more than anything, and they make me happiest. Plus, I still look up to you and follow your guidance every day. I still love you, and no number of days could ever change that. 



This piece was selected as a winner of the AAA’s AnthroDay Student Unessay Competition in the high school division. Inspired by the AAA/CASCA Annual Meeting theme “transitions,” this year’s unessay competition invited participants to reflect on what transitions mean to them.  


Dani Halperin

Dani Halperin is a junior at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York. Anthropology interests her because she can learn about other people’s societies and cultures in different time periods. Outside of anthropology, she enjoys playing varsity field hockey.

Cite as

Halperin, Dani. 2023. “A Letter for Mom .” Anthropology News website, July 20, 2023.