It's six weeks 'till Christmas and my mum would have turned 90 tomorrow.
I wondered how I might feel, six months after her passing.
I didn't need to wonder too long.
Seven days ago I started to make this year's Christmas pudding.
Feelings started to bubble with Kenny Loggins "I Believe In Love".
I exploded when my husband started to rearrange the recycling.
Why? I've never been overly sentimental about Kenny Loggins and, truly, the recycling?
Then I looked around my kitchen.
Dried fruit, brown sugar, breadcrumbs, butter and eggs.
I'd just poured half a bottle of brandy over the dried fruit for this year's Christmas pudding.
The tears came as I sealed the bowl tightly with cling wrap, to let the fruit sop up the brandy.
My mum loved to brag about putting a whole bottle of brandy into her pudding
Last year, for the very first time, mum didn't make the customary pudding.
She was a grand (and feisty) 89.
It was only the week before Christmas when she told me that she just couldn't be on her feet for the time it took to make her fabulous, boozy beast of a pudding.
"Flossy, I just can't do it," she said.
A Christmas without pudding?
"I'll pop one of mine in the post. Tonight," I said.
An express bag for an express pudding. Not one of my brightest moments.
Sure as pudding follows turkey, the Australia Post express bag was thrown onto mum's verandah.
"I heard it hit the screen door," she said.
No, it wasn't in one piece.
"That doesn't matter, Flossy. It'll still taste good," she said.
This year no mum. No tidy little blonde brick townhouse with its noisy wire screen door.
Mum's home is empty. For sale.
Her beloved Eric, 91, in a high needs nursing home close to his daughters in Sydney.
No more pink azaleas and camellias, crowded into a handkerchief-sized garden bed.
No more the tidy kitchen with its collection of frog fridge magnets, cuckoo clocks (three), floral tea towels, pink placemats; no more neat-as-a-pin little home to mum with Eric and almost a century of memories.
No more the pretty floral chair covered in dolls and stuffed toys ... a singing lion, a talking penguin and porcelain dolls in their pretty, frilly frocks.
No more chats about the best thing about Christmas. Always the pudding.
No more Christmas train trips to Sydney just to see the display in David Jones window and buy a big bag of brandy snaps, jelly babies and peppermint chocolates for the trip home.
Just me, making this year's pudding, without my mum.
The hardest thing I did when mum died, was clean out her kitchen.
I sat on her floral chair. Numb.
Even with stepsisters and my daughters alongside, I felt desolate.
I've kept her jam-stained wooden spoon, some orange pottery canisters and her mixing bowls.
I've kept mum's ashes, upstairs on my Nanna's chest of drawers.
Her friend Brenda said mum would want to be close to me, her only child.
When I looked at the bowl of fruit soaking in brandy, I knew what to do.
I popped upstairs and brought my mum down to the kitchen, to be with me for her birthday and to be by my side as I cooked our pudding.
To be with me when we put up the Christmas tree, when I cook Christmas lunch and when we carve the turkey from her favourite turkey platter.
Mum surrounds me. We are close. She is missing. She is missed.