My younger daughter and I were looking at the water the other night as the moonlight reflected off the surface. I asked her what she thought was beneath the surface of the water. She paused for a moment and then spoke.
"Probably a great white shark, a dead mouse, or a mermaid trying to get to shore," she replied with nine-year-old sincerity.
It is moments like these that help me cut through the intense grief I am feeling in the wake of my mother's death. I can hear my mother saying, "I love that kid," after I would tell her this story over the phone. She loved hearing every little detail about my children, especially the funny little things they said.
Having children requires us to persevere even in the darkest times in our lives. They make us laugh, bring us hope and remind us that life goes on despite whatever pain we may be experiencing at the moment.
There is still a big hole in my heart where my mother used to be. I have trouble imagining my future without her. It hits me at the most inopportune times - at the grocery store, the dry cleaner or at the dinner table.
But intellectually, I know that I have many more miles to travel before I see her again. And in the meantime, I have a little girl who is depending on me to help her imagine that mermaid coming ashore ...
Amanda Lamb is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.