Happy Birthday, mamadear, on what would have been your 69th. I’m sitting here about to watch an Agatha Christie movie, whom you loved, eating beets then pecan shortbread, which you loved (as do I), end-of-week tired from work you would have been so happy to know I was doing.
The kids are with their dad, whom you loved like a son. And we’ll honor you together tomorrow, honor your joy and fun and intelligence and life. But all day today, as I ran the bookstore (you would have loved it!), there’s been a quiet place spinning inside of me, of gratefulness that I was blessed with you as my mom, of pain in missing you as my best friend, of hope that somehow you can see how life is evening out a bit for me, of longing in so many colors and shades and intensities.
Sometimes, I feel as though I failed you in not being more proactive and forceful in helping you beat cancer. I should have been stronger for you, less afraid of offense on all sides and more true to my bossy self. I should have been less afraid of your disapproval. The irony is keen that grieving you is what it’s taken to finally not give a crap (saying “crap” instead of “shit,” just for you) and just be my true self.
I wish I could have been at your grave today, to talk and say hi. I would have brought you one of those unabashedly big feminine birthday cards and underlined phrases in it, like you always did for me. As I am often late (making up, you always said, for your having me three weeks early, lol), I’ll get there soon.
Thank you for being such an amazing person in my life.
I miss your smile.
I miss hearing you sing.
I miss your foot rubs.
I miss seeing you eat a piece of pie in seven seconds.
I miss holding your thumb.
I miss your cornbread.
I miss dancing with you.
I miss your love for my children.
I even miss your certainty that the Rapture would happen soon and those horrible sweatshirts that seemed to contradict your marvelous style.
I miss hearing your vision for things you wanted to do and change and discover.
Thank you for showing me what it looks like to have graceful strength, to be responsive, and to keep an open heart. I love you. I miss you.
Love, Your Daughter
p.s. In May, I told this story about what you taught me the last year of your life. Thank you for setting me free.