For the sake of her children and family, Dayra Manrique smiled through her first Christmas, New Year's and Easter holidays without her mother.
She even held a birthday party for her daughter Kamyla in April, following the meticulous plans her mother made before she vanished Dec. 1, 2013.
The 50-person affair was almost as big and loud as if Margarita Gonzalez-Almazan had thrown it herself.
On Wednesday, it will be Manrique's birthday.
There will be no call from Gonzalez-Almazan, no offer of a simple meal at her Shady Glenn Circle home, no surprise homemade tamales, hominy stew and salsa verde.
Most importantly, there will likely be no news from the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, which continues to investigate Gonzalez-Almazan's suspicious disappearance from her home.
Manrique plans to work a double shift at an area restaurant on the day she turns 24.
"To me, it's like it's any other day," she said. "I'm fine with that. I don't feel like celebrating."
Eight months after she was reported missing, there has been no sign of Gonzalez-Almazan, 47, or her boyfriend, Osman Galicia-Escobedo, 41, who is sought for questioning, investigators say.
Investigators interviewed his 36-year-old brother the week after the disappearance and found him cooperative. He left for Guatemala on Dec. 6 and has not been contacted since, Capt. Bob Bromage said Friday.
Deputies have also contacted immigration officials in Charleston and the FBI, which is coordinating investigative activities in Guatemala, Bromage said.
The Sheriff's Office believes Galicia-Escobedo is still in the United States. However, investigators cannot issue an arrest warrant without more information and proof of a crime, Bromage said.
Manrique says her mother's boyfriend was demanding and sometimes violent, and the relationship had begun to sour.
Gonzalez-Almazan was last seen at her home following a birthday party for Manrique's son.
As the celebration wound down, then-2-year-old Kamyla rested her head on Galicia-Escobedo's shoulder.
Manrique recalls her mother asking the man: "What is Kamyla going to do when I leave you?"
Galicia-Escobedo, who had been drinking beers and shots of whiskey, began to cry and the party cleared.
A few hours later, relatives returned to the empty home to find a smashed TV remote and two plates of unfinished food in the kitchen.
Deputies know Galicia-Escobedo -- who they say cleaned out his room in a Simmons Cay apartment the night before Gonzalez-Almazan disappeared -- stayed overnight in Savannah with two acquaintances the night of Dec. 1.
Gonzalez-Almazan was not with him, the two friends and two other witnesses said.
His car was found a few miles away.
Bromage said Friday the investigation into the disappearance is still active but declined to release further information.
Manrique said she used to call Investigator Brandon Cooler every day. He always told her there was nothing new, she said.
As time passed, she called him only once a week.
In July, she stopped calling at all.
"I thought, 'Maybe if I give him time, next time he'll have a good answer,'" Manrique said.
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.