As I sit here writing this post to honor my mom in one of the few ways I know how, I’m contemplating how it’s already been three years since she passed away from esophageal cancer on December 9, 2019.
Three years since I’ve heard her voice—if not more, because of the tracheotomy she had to get a few months before she died and we never heard her speak again. It was an aggressive tumor growing into her airway that was caught too late. Even typing this it sounds so much more aggressive than I could have ever imagined for her. This sweet, feisty, petite little human being taken by something so… not her, if that makes sense? I never envisioned her being ill in general, let alone something so, frankly… violent.
What still doesn’t add up for me is WHY she got esophageal cancer, and no matter how much time goes on, I don’t understand how or why. I think that’s one of the most frustrating parts about grief, ya know? Trying to make sense of why these things happen, and then how we go about life feeling as though we’re missing something critical to our survival each day.
What I Would Say To Her Now
If I had her in front of me, in person, right now… I’d say this:
You’re a force to be reckoned with, even in whatever universe you’re now in. I can’t wait to see you again, wherever that is, and often think and dream about our souls reuniting. Hugging… however souls do, I don’t know.
It’s hard to understand why you only lived to 62. You were supposed to live well into your 90’s, like the rest of your family with the “good genes”. I’m not sure if I believe in that anymore. But what I do believe, what I do know, is that I don’t fear death the way I used to. I don’t want to go before I’m ready, though. Not before I’ve seen more of this world. Not before I’ve hopefully had children of my own one day–yet another thing I can’t believe you won’t be here for. I know you would want me to do all of these things and more… because you’ve instilled a sense of adventure and compassion in me that I’m so grateful for.
While I don’t let death consume me—though I easily could—what I know now is that you and dad will be the very first people to greet me (and Princess not far behind). Embracing me to the “other side” with all of the excitement and love your souls can muster. I know I’ll be safe, and if there’s any pain as I leave the physical world, it will be swiftly relieved by your energy.
I remember the immediate weeks following your passing. The complete, all-consuming shock. My brain not catching up to having lost you and the reality of not being able to touch or speak to you again. That realization took a LONG time.
I wasn’t supposed to lose you… not this soon. To this moment I feel entirely robbed. It’s almost growing worse with time, sometimes.
That feeling of shock is still familiar to me now, just in a different way. I think back to the psychic medium I went to just two weeks after you died because I was so desperate to talk to you. I would have done anything (still would, some days). What came out of that is you were still getting used to being there. While your passing was peaceful, it was clear you didn’t want to leave us and weren’t ready to be in this new universe you’re in—where you’re no doubt entertaining the pants off of everyone there.
Making friends, laughing without pain. Because you weren’t yourself in those last few months. It cuts me deeply thinking about the pain you were in. If nothing else, I’m insanely grateful that’s no longer your reality.
But I didn’t understand (I still don’t, truthfully) how I’ll NEVER get to talk to you or hug you in physical form. God, death really is so final… I hate it. It shifts your entire state of being within seconds. That sense of “there’s no going back” is so incredibly present and hard to fathom.
These last few weeks I’ve been thinking about you more than usual, which comes with the territory of approaching an anniversary of death, I guess.
I miss your energy around the house and our phone conversations. I miss your ridiculously tight hugs… weirdly, pleasantly tight for someone who was 4’11”. Your laugh that I’ve started to inherit. The way you opened your mouth and smiled just so when you found something really funny, but with no noise coming out for a moment. But it was the most beautiful expression. I remember it so vividly.
I’ve found I’ve started to do that, too. I love it when people say we have the same smile. Feature-wise I would argue we don’t, but I think it’s a similar energy we embody and, with age, I’m taking on more of you (despite looking more like dad’s family). I couldn’t be more humbly proud of that.
So let me switch gears. Let me tell you what I’m grateful for, and let’s focus on the positive here for a moment… because I know you’d be telling me to “snap out of it” right now and that this is just another day. But you have to understand, it’s not just another day for me. My whole world, my whole future, changed the day you left the physical world.
What I’m Grateful For
You brought an overwhelming presence and light into a room in the most magnificent way. I still can’t get over it. Your smile… infectious. Your physical being was tremendously beautiful on the outside but profoundly, overwhelmingly beautiful on the inside. I’ve never seen anything like it. It pains me that no one will get to experience it as I did.
I’m grateful you taught me how to make my signature (our signature, really) French Chicken–a dish you insisted I always have in my back pocket should I ever have to entertain. Ugh, you were such a wonderful host and a fabulous cook. I’m sorry I wasn’t a better helper.
I’m thankful for what an attentive parent you were. You still are, I know, but in a different way now. I know you’re peeking over my shoulder as I write this. What a magnificent childhood you provided me… I can’t tell you how often I think about it. I think about more often than ever. Not to live in the past, but just to reflect on unbelievably happy times. I still can’t believe it was mine.
I’m grateful for our bond over fun things like perfume, jewelry, handbags, fashion, and interior decorating. For the walks and bike rides we would always go on together. I’m forever grateful for our deep talks about life, relationships, jobs, dreams, goals, ambitions, spirituality, and so much more. It pains me that I’ll never be able to do that with you in person… that feels like such a long life to be without that. It’s not fair.
I’m thankful you now show up in the form of pennies on the ground, and in the hummingbirds that show up outside on our patio at the feeders—the ones that stop and stare at me through the window. Hearing Aerosmith come on and knowing your hand is in that—especially when “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” came on as I chose my wedding dress, and having an undeniable gut feeling that you approved of it.
I missed you and dad at our wedding this year… god, I still can’t believe you weren’t there, in person. How is that possible? You were always supposed to be there. Dad was supposed to walk me down the aisle. Dance with me at the reception like we talked about. He even wanted to take lessons… yep, I’m crying now.
How is it that you won’t hold my future children in your arms here in the physical world? Please hold them and give them a kiss before they come here. Please. This world can be so cruel, and they’ll need your protection. I will fiercely protect them here, as you so beautifully did with me.
I feel like I have a constant white light around me now. You and dad are supporting and guarding my heart, mind, and body in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I know this. What I wouldn’t give to hear your voice right now… my emotions are coming in big waves, but I feel you here, no doubt. I just wish I had a voicemail from you… but I’m grateful I have home videos, at least.
Thank you, Mom
Thank you, from the depths of my soul, for being my mama. I can hardly express through words what I’m feeling right now. It’s too profound and my words are both escaping me and not doing you justice.
I just miss you. I really do. More than anything I could ever describe. It’s hitting really hard. But I won’t block this out, I’ll feel the sorrow as it comes. It makes me feel closer to you, and that’s all I want. Any way I can get it. I feel like you want me to smile now though, so I will. I’ll end this open letter with a smile and with some joy. I’ll close my eyes, focus, and imagine your embrace as I sit and do sometimes. Because thankfully, that’s engrained in the makeup of my brain forever.
But let me tell you—three years without you feels more surreal than ever. Just know that. Understand the lengths I would go just to spend 30 seconds with you again.
Know that I’ve scarcely missed you more than I do at this moment, and I have no doubt other ebbs will come that will knock me on my butt once again. That’s the life I lead now, and I’m embracing it. Mostly because I have to, unfortunately. But you’ve taught me well. So damn well.
You’re simply the best, my little mini mama. I loved calling you that, because you’re seriously the cutest little mom I could have asked for. But you lived up to the Taurus personality to a T—hard-headed, down-to-earth, tenacious, reliable, intelligent, hard-working, loyal. I love that so much about you.
Thank you for being mine, I’m so grateful I chose you. I love you to the cosmos and back.
The deepest love I could possibly give,
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