Sunday, May 8, 2016
When I was sixteen, and said goodbye to you for the last time, I knew I'd never see you again. I also knew that never would be a long, long time.
Thirty-nine years have passed. Time has, mostly, healed my wounds. I am seven years older than you ever got to be, a concept still hard for me to wrap my mind around. Mother's Day has never been easy for me. This year, as I sit in a hotel room in Seattle, far away from home, I've been fighting tears all morning. I miss you, still and again.
There's so much I have to tell you, so much you will never hear. After you left, I put you on a pedestal for a long time. I created a vision of perfection - of perfect love and devotion. But with you stuck on your pedestal, I couldn't reach you. I couldn't love you, I could only worship you. It was after I took you down, examined your flaws and realized that yes, you loved us, but you were not perfect and your love wasn't perfect, that was I able to begin to heal. You were not perfect, yet you loved and were loved, and so I learned I didn't need to be perfect to be love and be loved.
You have grandchildren, and great-grandchildren you will never see. Now and again I talk of you to my children, but I can see my words don't reach them. They will never know you; to them, you are just a few fading pictures and dusty stories. Yet, I know they know you despite the distance. For what I am was rooted by your love and teaching, nourished by your examples.
I sometimes wonder how our family would be different if you had lived longer. Would you have been able to give Maria the confidence she needed to believe she was lovable? Now she is frail; barring a miracle, she will never be healthy again. Her world is narrowed to two cluttered rooms in a second story walk-up. Her hourglass, almost run out. Are you out there somewhere, waiting to greet her when her body finishes wearing out? I hope so.
My heart yearns to see you just one more time, to have you hold me in your arms just for a moment. Sometimes, I dream you've come back and I get the hug I've longed for. The dreams don't come often, but when they do I cherish them. How wonderful, to see you again. I've never doubted you loved us. I try to live so you would be proud of the woman I've become. I try to be strong.
But some days, strong falls apart and the tears come again and I've learned to let them come. For in the tears is the memory of the time when I was young and loved and nurtured. I was the one taken care of, instead of the one taking care of. Those memories are precious to me.
I miss you, Mom.
I love you, always.
I hope you are happy, wherever you are.