I miss you. I wish you were here. I can tell you a mom is irreplaceable for a child. When a mom dies, her child is no longer whole. The loss makes it hard to breathe. That child flails in the wind like a cottonwood seed. A piece of fluff that gets knocked about the world by the wind. Sometimes I landed on solid ground, sometimes I landed in a pond and almost drowned. But I’m still here.
In the year after your death, my dreams plagued me whether they were about your death or when they fooled me into thinking you were still alive. Waking up in sorrow and again remembering you were dead was the hardest point of each day.
Know that you are missed more than words could ever say, Mom.
I’ve felt your absence every day of my life since you were stolen from me. I fell into a never-ending well of agony after you died. I dwelled there for years. Depression ran in my veins alongside my blood. The blood became rough and scraped up my heart.
I went haywire as a teenager. Depression left me crawling through my days. I tell you this, Mom, not to make you sad but to let you know how much of an impact losing you had on my young life. I did many things I shouldn’t have. I gave up many things you had loved right alongside me, but somehow with you gone they just didn’t matter anymore. The joy of them was stripped from me. I became empty.
I searched for many things to fill myself up. Many were bad things, but some were good. I had good friends who helped and distracted me. I had the rest of my family too who gave me love. I had pets and cats to console me and give me company. Pets you had loved too. The cats looked for you, I saw them searching, but they could never find you. I understood their sadness and confusion.
I could never forget you. A part of me is still lost and I’m wondering if I will ever get it back. Maybe that piece is in your heavenly home with you and someday you can put it back in me and I will be whole again.
One day not long after you died I found a card cradled in the grass of our backyard. The card had a picture of Jesus on the front. It looked like an old card. I wondered who put it there. Did it fall from heaven and you dropped it for me to find? Had someone put it in a balloon from far away and that balloon popped over my house leaving the card to fall? Did God put it there? Did a neighbor nestle it into our grass to give me comfort? I still have the card. The words on the card were Psalm 23. It was about comfort and the valley of death. I had to wonder if it was a sign from you that you were in heaven. It made me cry hard. Sharply splintered tears had ripped streaks from my eyes down to my toes leaving me memories of that moment as scars of grief.
We used to light a candle for you at Christmas. You died right before Christmas so I guess this made sense. We don’t do it anymore and I’m not sure why because I still miss you. I guess I’m busy with my own boys and our own Christmas family traditions. I want to light a candle for you at Christmas again.
I cried so many tears I lost myself as that young teen girl. When I looked I couldn’t find myself so I wrote down my agony. The loss of you brought me to writing. It was my counselor, my friend, and my dumping pad. I had to get it all out and writing it down was the only way that worked. When I talked to others about my emptiness they just didn’t get it. They hadn’t gone through what I had gone through. They would judge me even if they didn’t mean to. I could always see it in their eyes. They either felt bad for me and their eyes welled up with pity or they just didn’t know what to say. They were so consumed by the pity that no real help came forth. I don’t even know what would have helped. Probably nothing.
The whole world shifted while I made peanut brittle in chemistry class the morning you died. I remember how the peanut brittle shards looked in the tin foil. The classroom lights reflecting brightly off the tin foil. The peanut brittle stack on the black square high top table. The table they called me down to the office from to tell me of your death.
I miss the foods you made. No one can make food the way you made it, Mom. You gave food to me with love and your smile. It can’t be replicated. It’s impossible, no one else has your smile. Sometimes I think of you now when I give my boys plates of food. I focus on that because sometimes I’m busy and it’s hard to get them their food, but I want them to remember me serving them with love and a smile. When I remember this perspective, I feel good. I feel like a mom. I feel more like you.
I learned how to be a mom from you. You were a fantastic mom. I know not everyone can say that about their mothers. I was lucky to have you. Mom, you were fantastic, awesome, loving, creative, giving, and kind. Now that I am an adult I understand how great you were. I learned to give to others and be generous by watching you.
The loss of you made me strong. I became an independent young woman who wanted to do it all on her own. I love that I became strong, but I hate that I had to lose you to do it. I hope and pray my children become strong. I hope and pray they don’t have to lose me to become that way. I will mold them. Give them tasks to make them strong. I don’t want to leave them to strengthen them. There must be another way. I will find it.
I often pray that you are able to know some of my joys.
I hope you can know some small piece of my life. I wish you could have met my husband and I wish you could have felt in your heart the excitement I had on my wedding day. You missed it all, but I’m hoping someday I will see you and you will tell me you were there with me. You will tell me you sat in the church and watched me marry my husband. I hope you will tell me you were able to see my sons’ faces when they burst into this world. Oh, how I could have used your help and wisdom. How we could have shared laughter and snuggles together with my babies.
They are all getting big now. I hope you can see how tall they are getting. They fight a lot but they also play well together. The times they play are sweet jewels in my day. When they make me smile out of pure joy, I know what being a mom is all about. I am a lucky woman, Mom. I had you and now I get to be a mom, and I treasure that.
Thank you, Mom. I love you.