It’s been a year since you left us—365 days. One of every major holiday and family birthday. It feels like an eternity and a nanosecond. A century and a flash.
When will I stop expecting messages that start with, “My sweet girl . . .”? When will I stop looking for you at family gatherings? When will I stop waiting for you to come for your weekly Play-Doh date with your granddaughters?
You didn’t give me a mushy birthday card this year. You didn’t ask me to email you that we got home safely from vacation. You haven’t checked to make sure my girls have enough warm winter clothes or reminded me to drive carefully in the snow.
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I wake up in the morning and, in the fog of those first few minutes of consciousness, I hope it was all a bad dream—a nightmare. I expect the calls. The texts. The emails. But as I drink my coffee, the fog lifts.
They’ll never come again.
You will never again remind me that I will always be your baby, no matter how old I get. I’ll never hear another, “I told you so,” when my daughters give me the same attitude I used to give to you. I’ll never again have anyone who unapologetically, excessively worries about me.
Gratitude and sadness waltz together in my thoughts. I try to focus on how lucky I am that you lived well into my adult life, to be thankful that my daughters got to know and love you. I hug my girls a little tighter each night before bed. I breathe the attitude in, knowing, someday, I will be the one saying, “I told you so.”
New strands of gray hair and the fine lines around my eyes stare back at me in the mirror.
Aging somehow feels different now.
I still put on my anti-wrinkle cream and dye my hair, but I have a heightened awareness and gratitude that I am here to do those things. I’m here to watch my daughters grow up. To worry about them when they are sick. To give them overly mushy cards on their birthdays.
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When I was a child, your love felt smothering at times. As a teen, it felt controlling. In my adulthood, the constant concern seemed unnecessary and sometimes even silly. I took you for granted because I never knew life without you.
Grief fills the void you left.
Pain replaces the comfort I felt in your presence. Regret fills my heart as I wish I had appreciated you more when you were here. I know now that you are never too old to need your mother. That there is no such thing as too much love.
Rest in peace, Mom. I hope you are up there somewhere saying, “I told you so.”