My mom died a year ago today.
I’ve written – briefly — about some of that journey but have mostly focused on all the beautiful friends that buoyed me afloat during that time. But to write about the experience as it affected my core? No. To quote a colleague who went through a similar ordeal just a few years before me, “Nope, can’t even go there yet. Cannot go there.” I understood it completely and still do. There are no words yet.
A lot can happen in a year’s time. Hell, a lot can happen in half a year’s time, as witnessed by the soul splintering timeline of my mom’s final six months.
To honor this subdued – yet utterly important and significant – anniversary I can reveal what I’ve learned about calendar years.
In one whole year you can witness your 17-year-old son become 18 by making a conscious and physical decision to leave behind the poor choices that saddened his mother so. You can watch him become a responsible man right before your very eyes and question why you ever doubted him.
In a year’s time you can watch your 16-year-old daughter become 17 by navigating relationships (relationships that seem to desperately define adolescence) with the grace and maturity of a woman far beyond her years. You can think that she couldn’t possibly become any more beautiful with each passing month. But you would be wrong.
In 365 days you would believe it is a devilish trick of the eye that has caused your 12-year-old’s shoe size to surpass that of his father as he reaches 13 years old. To share this fact with him, you could look up to tell him, for he now leans down to kiss you. This will make you amused. And melancholy.
In a calendar year you can observe your baby – for he will always be your baby – blossom from 10-years-old into an even more likable, adored, and sought-after pain in the butt 11-year-old (have I mentioned he’s the youngest?). You will realize that his personality is emblazoned from seeing – and hearing – more than his siblings did at this age. For this, you will continue to shield him from their merciless taunts, so that forever they will think you are favoring him.
Throughout the 52 weeks you can ascertain that life most definitely is NOT fair, nor is it supposed to be. My sister and I now shoulder the responsibility of caring for our 90-year-old step-father. That he has survived four strokes, emphysema, open heart surgery, a pig valve AND was 20 years senior to my mom will only bolster this concept.
In twelve months you can gain immeasurable wisdom about what is important in life. You can evaluate friendships with a keen eye: assess which ones are fulfilling, which are frivolous, and which are insufficient.
You can – and will – enjoy simpler things, and quiet moments,
You can – and will – laugh (please see above mentioned reference to 90-year-old man).
I used to pray. Now I just speak directly to my mom and I know she hears me. I am convinced that last month, before my little leaguer hit his very first home run of his life, it was my incessant and silent pleas to her that helped this ball over the fence. “Come-on-mom, come-on-mom, help-him-out-mom, come-on-mom, help-him-do-this mom …”
She did. And I think she’s done a lot for us this year. Jobs, health, happiness, you name it. I’ve named it: mom.
I miss her.
I miss just talking to her.
And she missed some pretty great things this year.
Of course she really didn’t miss them. We just missed her joyful reaction to them.
So as we’ve gotten through our calendar year of firsts — her birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, her anniversary, and – the worst — her 10 grandchildren’s birthdays, when their customary $25 arrived with only one signature on the card – we’ve always toasted her.
And we will today, too.
Because no one is laughing more than her right now at the three-ring circus she’s left behind (please see above reference to 90-year-old man). Without a doubt in my mind, she is laughing her ass off right now.
Love you, Mom.