Six years. Six years have gone by since the first time I wrote you a letter. Do you remember it? I’m sure you do. I was such a naïve little girl then, thinking that somehow writing you a letter would instantly heal my pain – instantly make it all better.
It didn’t. And while most would view that particular act as a regret, I can’t bring myself to do that. Sure, I was naïve. And no, I still don’t feel better about you being gone; but I think that was the first time I really talked to you. It was the first time in that year since you were gone that I allowed myself to feel pain. And when I thought back today to when I felt closest to you – that was the one instance where I can say with certainty that I felt you next to me. It was like you were sitting across from me, listening to me while I babbled on about everything and nothing.
And now? Well… now six years have passed since I wrote you that letter, and I wanted – no, needed – to feel close to you again. Because you know what, mom? This sucks. It truly, completely, utterly just… sucks.
When I first met Sean – back before we fell in love or got engaged or anything, right at the beginning of it all – do you know what my first thought was? How much you would have liked him. And of course you weren’t there for me to consult with, because death is permanent and it takes the people we love away from us even if we aren’t ready for them to leave and we’re left making assumptions of how much they would like the people in our lives.
And when I broke up with Sean – even before I broke up with him, really; right around the time I started thinking maybe I wasn’t in love with him, do you want to know what my first thought was? How much I wish you were there for me to talk to. I wanted you there because I knew you would have had the best advice for me. But you weren’t because, well, you heard my earlier rant on death and its permanence. You weren’t there, and you were the only person I wanted to talk to about it.
I want to tell you I’m doing fine. But I’m not. I want to tell you I’m content with my life – that I’ve found my true purpose and it all makes sense now. But in reality, Mommy, none of this makes sense. Seven years later, and everything is as clear to me as it was the day you left. In some aspects, I’m still standing in that hospital trying to will you to come back to life, so sure that if I prayed hard enough, you’d come back and there would be no more cancer. But we all know what happens to wishes, I suppose. You always told me that wishes were good – and that I should always dream big – but when it came down to it, what we put into our wishes, and hopes, and plans was what we’d get out of them.
I want to tell you that I at least understand that aspect of it, Mom. I have to work hard to play hard. I have to dream big, but I have to work hard to reach my dreams and goals. I want to tell you that the only reason I’m as strong-willed and persistent as I am now is because of you. You always pushed me, and at the time I didn’t understand it, but I do now. I have you to thank for that.
I want to tell you thank you for the music, too, Mama. I have no doubt that you’re up there finding some more killer tunes for me – or some more therapeutic music, because you and I always had that special bond. You taught me that music is what heals us, what gets us through. I completely, wholeheartedly agree, Mom. And I just want to thank you for the silly songs and the sad songs; the happy songs and the more melancholy ones. You taught me to appreciate music, and it’s been one of the biggest influences on me since you left. Thank you.
I want to tell you thank you for teaching me to balance work and school and friends and family. I wasn’t very good at that after you left, but I’m spending more time with Honey and MomMom and Artie now. Not lately – though I’m sure you understand as well as anyone that sometimes, when you’re really sad, you just need to be alone. And these last few nights… I’ve just needed to be alone. It gets like this every year around this time, but I am trying to make more time for MomMom, Honey and Artie. We’re all we have left, and it’s because of you that I’m learning to balance it all.
You nurtured my writing, too, Mom, and you’re the only reason I’ve kept it up. I’m going to write your story one day. I promise. I just need to get through the first chapter, I think, and it’ll flow from there. But you know that. You understand. You always understood me – my quirks and oddities – when no one else could. I think that’s what I miss the most.
It just sucks, Mom. It sucks to not have you here. It’s not fair, really. Though if there’s one thing I’ve learned – from you and from this entire ordeal – it’s that life isn’t fair. And while I don’t have to like it, I do have to deal with it. I have to accept it and push forward. I don’t have to move on, though, in spite of what others might say. I don’t have to let this go – and I doubt I ever will.
You aren’t going to be there on my wedding day. Do you know how panicky that makes me? You, who always had flawless make-up and killer style (I know, I know, no white after Labor Day!) won’t be there to tell me if my colors clash or my dress is out of season (it’s your dress, so I know it won’t be). You won’t be there to dance with me to any of the thousands of songs we would dedicate to each other on our road trips or our trips into Herndon for work. You won’t be there; and there are times where that thought alone sends me into a frenzy.
You won’t be there when I have babies. You won’t be there to tell me that my daughter needs more pink or needs to spend more time at the beach because I was a beach baby and she should be, too! You won’t be there to tell me that Journey is not a suitable name for a child, but is hands-down one of the greatest bands to ever grace the music scene. You won’t be there to stick your tongue out at me when I say I’m going to name my daughter Stephanie Grace. You won’t be there to tell my teenage daughter all about how the most scandalous thing I did in high school was hang out with a boy you didn’t like, so she better give me lots and lots of trouble.
The one thing I’m most scared of, Mommy, is that I won’t remember everything about you to tell my kids or my husband. I’m scared I’ll forget the best times we had together; and I don’t want that. I want to remember every single detail of the 19 years we had together. I want to remember everything – even trivial little things like the days we’d play hooky from work and school because my ankle was broken and you had ‘chemo brain’ and there was absolutely nothing to be accomplished that day.
I want to remember it all, Mama. And I’m scared that one day I won’t remember a thing. Is that silly? Or will you be around to whisper even the silliest things in my ear so that I’ll remember them? I hope you will be as evident in my life then as you are in my life now. I hope you’ll make my ears ring like you did the day I saw the Sistine Chapel or the day I stuck my feet in the Pacific Ocean. I hope you’ll be there for me every step of the way; and I’m so scared that you won’t be. I’m scared to lose even the memory of you.
Some days I get out of bed and have to remind myself that you aren’t here. Some days, the fact that you aren’t here weighs on my heart so heavily that I can’t even think about getting out of bed. I suppose there are good days and bad for everyone who has to go through this type of loss, though. It’s a small comfort to know I’m not alone. I know MomMom misses you just as much – if not more – than I do. But I can’t compare her loss to mine; I can’t compare Honey’s loss to mine, either, and I know he misses you terribly.
I think Artie sees you all the time. I envy him that. But I’m glad you visit him. I’m glad you keep him company and talk to him. I think he needs that.
I need it, too, Mama. But you always show up just when I need you – even if it’s something as inconsequential as a dream about us flying to Texas. You’re always here. Even when I can’t see you, I know you’re there. It’s the best comfort in the world, I’ll admit. You’re not here, but I have no doubt that everything that’s happened to me has been because you’re looking out for me – even the bad things.
I should probably let you go now. I imagine you have some emeralds and pearls to play in, or some streets of gold to walk. I hope you’ve been able to find Uncle Jack – though I have no doubt you sought both he and Albert out the minute you got there. Then you went for the jewelry… am I right?
I miss you so much, Mom. But I know I’ll see you again someday. Every single day is bittersweet. It brings me one day closer to seeing you again, but it brings me one day further from the last time I saw you. It’s a precarious little line. There are days where I can’t decide if I want to cry or stomp my foot in anger – though I know you’d tell me that neither of those are viable options; I just need to keep living and look forward to the day that I do see you again.
Keep Artie company, Mama. And visit MomMom and Honey, too. You’re even welcome to whisper in my ear again if you have a few spare moments between running the choir and getting everything ready for us. I can’t wait to see you again.
I miss you.
I love you forever. I like you for always. As long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.