This year marks a sad milestone—you’ve now been gone longer than you were here.
Today you would be 83. And suddenly somehow, that doesn’t sound as old— especially now that I just reached a milestone myself. 60 seems impossibly old; just as 41 seemed impossibly young. When you died at 41, you left 3 teenage children— younger than your 7 grandchildren are today—too young to apppreciate the magnitude of our loss, of your loss.
Over the years I gradually began to grasp what I was missing. Without you there to celebrate—every holiday and joyous family event became just a little bittersweet. In every crisis, I’ve longed for your comfort as my moral compass. I feel a sting sometimes just seeing grandparents with their grandchildren.
Losing you meant losing my touchstone. Maybe the only times I ever felt perfect—was seeing my reflection in your eyes. That kind of unconditional love, a mother’s love—is a precious treasure. And not everyone gets to experience it—so I was lucky to feel your love even for 18 years. That’s your legacy and greatest gift—that you were the mother I aspire to be.
For 41 years I haven’t forgotten about you—-but I have forgotten you. Time has erased many of my memories. I’ve forgotten how you walked, how you talked, how you laughed. I’ve tried to keep you alive—for me and for my kids. But it’s impossible to breathe life into a photograph; you’re only alive to me in my dreams.
In real life, you never met my husband. (either one of them)
You never knew my children.
You never really knew me.
And worst of all— I never really knew you.
Though as a reporter, my job was to ask questions and write stories—-ironically I never got to hear all your stories, and ask you all the questions I would have wanted to know. In fact that’s one of the reasons I started to blog—- so someday my own children will know me.
Last week, at my friend Carol’s funeral, her two daughters spoke with eloquence and elegance about Carol, who just became a grandmother recently. Their words and raw pain were a punch in the gut; knowing that people are resilient—yet a mother’s love can’t ever be duplicated or replaced. Sitting there, I felt all the losses of 40 years. So I cried for Carol and for her daughters and for her baby granddaughter Hazel; I cried for my children who would have been your grandchildren; I cried for myself and my sister and brother; and mostly I cried for you.