It’s been a year. A year without your voice, a year without your laugh.
Those last months when your body was still with us but your mind was flitting between here and somewhere else were hard. The trip we made to Little Rock to see you was bittersweet. I’ll never forget the smile on your face when you saw Steve and me walk into your room. You instantly recognized us, which was such a relief. Then you started talking and I couldn’t follow. The next day you didn’t remember I had been there. In a way that was a relief, because I knew it was not causing you pain that I wasn’t there to see you every day. I still felt guilty, but not as much.
There were no more phone calls. You couldn’t figure out how to use the phone. If Michael or Tracey put the phone to your ear, all you were doing was parroting words. You couldn’t hear or understand me. That was so sad, but it prepared me for this year.
You may not physically be on this earth, but you are still with me.
Every time, and I mean every time, Steve and I walk through the house watching the sunset we talk of you. We remember your joy in the vibrant colors and huge scope of our Colorado sunsets. I remember you sitting on the couch in the sun room, watching the birds, nodding off to sleep in the sun.
We drove to Cripple Creek a few weeks ago. We remembered you looking out the window, riveted by the colors of the aspens in the fall. We laughed about your gambling “addiction” and how adamant you were that you needed to try out the casinos in Cripple Creek. I regret not taking you more often.
I sit in the living room and remember us painting it together. I was on the ladder, you were doing the lower part of the walls. I never told you about going behind you to get the parts that you missed. Remember all the houses we have painted together?
I’m not as directionally challenged as you were. Frankly I don’t think it’s possible to be worse than you were and still operate in society. But when I get turned around and a little lost, you are there with me giggling. And the first thing out of Steve’s mouth is “you are just like your mother”
I’ll always take that as a compliment.
We had friends over last night. They were sitting on your side of the counter while I cooked. We poured some wine for them and the memories flooded me yet again. I could see you sitting there, wine glass in hand, keeping me company while I cooked. I remember the laughter, the jokes, and the giggles. How fortunate I am to have had such a wacky mom.
So more people have heard about you Mom. More of your stories have been told. They don’t mean much to the people that hear them, I know that. But the telling is important to me. To Steve. To Keely. It’s the way that we continue to include you in our lives.
It hurt that you were not able to be with us when Steve and I got married. I know how important that was to you. But we felt your presence that day. We felt your joy and approval. I know that is just the first of many occasions that we will miss you.
I think I talk to you more now than I did that last year you were alive. On those long drives in the car going to Colorado Springs I tell you about what is going on in my life. I know you already know, but it helps to tell you. And of course I can carry on your part of the conversation because I know you so well. I can hear your voice “Well, Michelle….”
When I am alone in the house that is when I feel you close. I put on “your” music, Enya or Yanni, and as it floods through the air you are there. I cry. I miss my Mom. I want to hold your hand, hug you one more time.
I had the gift of time with you for many months while you stayed with us in Colorado. What a very precious gift that was. Steve got to know you and love you. Keely got to spend a lot of time with her beloved Grandma.
You knew that I loved you. I knew that you loved me. In the end, that was really all that mattered.
So Mom, this is your birthday. It is one year and a few days since you left us. So listen to me as I sing Happy Birthday to you, and know that I love you very much.