"Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out..." (From Sleepless in Seattle.)

My mother, Mary E. Atkins, an amazing feminist and social justice activist for nearly half a century, died Saturday. There are no words to describe the void left.

I sat beside her bed, holding her hand and singing to her for the last two days of her life. To say that my mother and I were close would be an extreme understatement. My dad died when I was 13. That left mom with four children to raise and I am the eldest. Mom and I took care of each other and my sisters. Mom was my friend, my ally, my teacher, my mentor and so much more.

One of my mother's favorite songs about our relationship was, "You and Me Agaisnt the World" by Helen Reddy:

You and me against the world
Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world
When all the others turn their backs and walk away
You can count on my to stay

And when one of us is gone
And one of us is left to carry on
Then remembering will have to do
Our memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you
You and me against the world
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