It's funny that I remember clearly what the room looked like, and how time stood still when you drew your last breath, but I can't remember the year it happened. Some days it seems like it was just yesterday and sometimes I'm sure it happened eons ago. I remember that morning in the hospital, knowing the breaths you were taking were your last. I remember holding your hand and assuring you Dad would be okay; that I'd take care of him for you. I remember not wanting you to go; but praying that your trip across the abyss from this world to the next would not be long or hard. You were so brave, I wanted to be brave too. It's not easy to be brave when your heart is breaking.
Dad and I have had some struggles since I made you that promise. Without you here to mediate we've butted heads a few times. I fell in love with a man that I feel sure you'd like. And now, after some time together, even Dad has grown fond of him. Since you've been gone, I've moved out and moved back in. Some things are very different; while some things have stayed just as you left them. I think you know that, though. I believe your spirit hovers around - watching, listening, comforting, knowing.
We gave Dad a party for his 90th birthday over the weekend. I did my normal, get all hyper and nervous act, but Linda was here to help and everything came together nicely. The day we were to go shopping for supplies, Dad suggested in his inimitable way, "your mother would have had a tenderloin." So when we went to Sam's I bought the biggest piece of meat I've ever bought in my life. Between Dad, the Joy of Cooking, Jack's taking the bull by the horns to "just do it" and Linda watching the meat thermometer, it turned out better than I expected. As I put the platter on the table, it occurred to me that in the cooking and serving of the beef, we recalled your presence, not to be sacrilegious, in a Eucharistic way.
I heard a radio preacher say today that God gave us more than the ability to remember things. The power of memories is such that humans can almost relieve special moments in their lives. We can actually smell the smells, hear the voices, and be in another place and time that touched our hearts.
The beef tenderloin and clam dip on the table reminded me that you were with us as we celebrated. I realized Grandmother showed up too, when a beautiful red bird sat on the bird feeder enjoying a morning snack. Dad had cards and letters and gifts from family members and old friends. I think being surrounded by love made him feel good. He smiled a lot.
To say I wish you'd been here would be a selfish request. Knowing you are in heaven is knowing you are in the best place you can be. Having your spirit with us is almost as good as seeing your smile and hearing your voice. There's not much I can tell you that I don't believe you already know.
Life goes on, the world continues to make it's revolution around the sun. The days often seem long, but the years pass. I didn't know it the day you died, but I've come to realize that hearts can still beat even with a giant crack in them; that memories are the bandages that hold them together until some kind of healing takes place. And when all else fails, the next best thing to shouting, "I want my Mommy" is to comfort myself with a tried and true Mom recipe.
We miss you, Mama, but we're doing okay.