A Letter to My Mom on Mother's Day
Today yet another timestamp of mourning (like your birthday and Christmas and the day I wish I could have told you that you will soon be a grandma again) is passing and all of the feelings of loss and grief and longing and happiness and wistful affection are back to rear their heads once again. We are old friends now and they find me often, in the most mundane of moments and at the milestones too. Today feels like an empty well of a day, devoid of you for miles and miles into to cold, dark earth, and yet, I can't help but imagine how different it would be if you were here to celebrate. It would probably feel small and inconsequential, like every other day of the past or the thousands yet to come.
I wish you were around, at least to call. I kick myself constantly for clearing my overflowing, all-important voicemail box in the days before you were gone. For avoiding your calls in those days leading up to the one that changed things forever. There are times where I would give everything to hear your voice again, saying anything really, just one more time. Now I can't even remember what we talked about when we spoke for the last time. If I was kind (or busy) or if I said, "I love you" before hanging up.
I live in two different minds these days: one of the present and one of nostalgia that sinks its sharp, gnarled teeth into the fleshy part of my arm and won't seem to let go no matter how hard I shake. I listen to music that reminds me of you constantly. Songs that pull me back to nights when it was just us, tucked into bed with the same CD in perpetual rotation. I recall your off-key voice in the early mornings, while I sat crusty-eyed and backpack-clad, piled into that little Camry that we had for so many years, on the way to school. You'd be embarrassed by it now but I thought that you had the most beautiful voice. Like when Lorelai tells me that I sing so pretty even when my voice cracks and I can't reach any of the high-notes.
There's a rolling fog in my brain that sweeps in and wants to pretend it is 1994. I often find you in the sounds and smells and actions of days long since gone, my head tilted toward the sky, eyes squinted, trying to piece together memories of easier times in the quiet moments of my day. I am afraid of the days sometime in the future when those memories aren't as sharp in focus and the fuzziness of time starts to bleed into the details that I fight so hard to hold onto. I worry, in those days, I will finally have to let you go.
I am fine and we are doing well. I am happy even. Deliriously happy. Until I'm not... for a few seconds or for a day or at night when everyone else is asleep, chests rising and falling rhythmically in a way that reassures me that they are safe and I can finally fall apart. I cry still, in the shower where the stream washes away tears and the sound of water drowns out all of the sounds of a girl (woman? child?) that should be okay by now. I think about the way you used to tease me about my crying, lovingly remembering a toddler that would grasp at her own neck as if to literally choke back the tears. I hold my neck and sob until all the tears have gone and it's like it never happened. I think it will probably always be like this and that is okay. Some days it feels like a release.
In the moments of happiness too, I wish you were here. You would be so excited for us! For another baby to love. No matter how hard and painful our relationship was, I will always remember how wonderful of a grandmother you were. You still mean the world to Lorelai and she falls apart in her own little ways, every now and again. You are the wish she makes on stars at night and it's heartbreaking to hear her mutter little prayers for your return. I'm dumbfounded that she still mourns for you, that she still remembers the softness of you. I do the very best that I can to keep the memories in focus and alive for her as well as for me. Because, in a world where we are constantly reminded of your laugh or the silly way you'd dance every time it snowed, you haven't really gone anywhere.
What nobody tells you about grief is the way that it mimics the ocean. Choppy with waves that come one after the other, that all but bowl you over, toward the shore and then become still like glass for as far as the eye can see. But then, every once in a while, something swells and there is a big break out in the static blue. Grief hits you without a thought and then settles back into a calm stillness. The ocean is none the wiser. It's hard and it's not, all at once. We've adapted and life goes on, even when the person that is tethered to your every languid movement and important memory is no longer there. I think you would be proud of us. Of me. I only wish that I could wish you a happy Mother's Day.