Yesterday while driving down Main Street I tuned my car stereo to the old Amy Grant mixed cd you burned for me in 2004. “If These Walls Could Speak” is the first track – this one in particular always makes me miss you; I do not intentionally listen to it very often for that reason. On this day, however, every word seeped into my soul and I could almost hear you through her melody. I could almost see your face and your dark brown eyes as you lost yourself in the familiar song. It broke my heart.
I cried the rest of the way home.
Living life without a mother is something I have gotten used to, most of the time, but when I actually stop and think of it, the pain has never faded indefinitely. Certain days are more difficult than others, of course, but it just hurts too much to dwell; it is obvious why I do not make a habit out of doing so.
You would love my little girls. Layla actually reminds me a lot of you. She has your magnetism and charm, and though she looks a lot like George, there are instances when all I see is you. The way she arches an eyebrow, or the way she moves her mouth when she speaks… She becomes a piece of the Grandmother she will never meet. She becomes a part of you. Jemma is the sweetest baby I have ever known. She is funny and smart, just like her big sister, but there is also something so magical about my second daughter; she is unique and pure and I love her with incredible, never-ending passion.
They both are the reason I am still standing. Second only to God, my children inspire me, empower me and teach me to be patient. If you had one moment more, and you could see that your oldest daughter has become a mother, and that I raise them well, teach them about the Lord and manners and respect – I like to believe you would be very proud of the mother I am becoming.
During all the years I watched you get sicker, and all the time I invested in trying to help the best way I knew how, the reality of the fact that you are gone still hits me sometimes; never more than when I hold my girls, breathe in their skin and feel a sense that I was meant to be in that moment – a Mommy to the most precious gift any person can receive.
There are times, when I hold Jemma in the middle of the night and sing her back to sleep, or I answer Layla’s endless stream of innocent, curious questions, I think of you… As if a torrential rain pours from a blue sky falling just on my head, I feel as if I am the only motherless daughter in the world, and I wonder how I am supposed to live the rest of my life this way. I still wish for just a moment more with you – as stupid as that is. When I hold my daughters, all I want is for you to experience that, just once.
You left us too soon, Mom… And the irony of it, regarding history in our family, is that I grew up never having the chance to know MY Grandmother, either. Now, my daughters will experience the same exact thing. What’s more is Layla’s birthday; could God have orchestrated such a marvelous and indefinable gift just for me? Lord knows it wasn’t for my daughter because on the day she was born you died. Sometimes, I still do not quite understand the meaning of that.
I have been through so many things since that day. I have loved greatly and suffered great personal loss. Choices have been both glorified and regrettable. Somehow, I am still in Texas, but I absolutely love it here. I was thinking a lot today about the house in the country where we played in the tall grass and built forts and “collected” feral cats. I realized I was meant for the country. I was meant for a place where I could roam and feel safe. Boerne gives me that, and I am grateful each time I walk down our little Main Street. People smile as you pass by. People seem to slow down around here and at least pretend to care about a tall woman walking past, pushing a double stroller with no ring on her finger. Even just something as simple as a glance and a half-grin, I feel as though at least an effort was made. I was seen, if even just for a moment. I do not believe we find that much in America these days, so I cannot imagine living anywhere else.
When it comes to the love I have lost, well, I guess this is an area where I take after you. I am a restless, wandering spirit. You were this way, too, but unlike you I find my strength in something outside myself. I find it in taking accountability for my choices, for learning from my mistakes and striving to become better than I have been. Sometimes I think had you been more like me in those areas, you could have overcome what took your life. Needless as it may seem, I still wish you would have fought harder, because as I live here alone now, as I sleep in an empty bed and miss what I have lost, I still wish sometimes to be able to hear what you would tell me. To hear what you would think.
Maybe that part never goes away?
One area where I have to forgive you is in comparing the fact that my mother died to every woman whom comes into my life to fill that “mother” role. You would have adored Najwa, and she is a gift I KNOW God sent me, because she loves me as if I am her daughter even when it has been years since her son and me were married. But, Natalie, well… Where I have to forgive you, mom, is that you stole from me the ability to rely on a mother figure completely. To trust, completely; although she never gave me a chance, not a real one, and I resent that because I deserved at least that much – but I see now that maybe part of it comes from losing you. In and of itself, because I lost my mother, there is a void in my heart. Natalie could have tried harder, and Najwa tries harder than she should because I do not deserve it all the time, but I am grateful. The point is, when it comes to allowing my heart to open up and trust a woman wearing what should be your shoes, I think the only way I can have a good relationship in the future with that woman, whomever she may be, is to forgive the fact that MY mother died.
I guess, all of this to say I miss you. Yesterday, today, and perhaps even tomorrow.
Even in my own occasional sorrow that you are gone, I do rejoice that at least your pain is gone. At least your journey did not have to endure more heartache, more struggle. You got to be delivered from that, and I am grateful. I am sure I could focus more on that, but because I am emotional by nature and go by feelings and I am not well-versed at talking myself down from emotions with rational thought, I will just conclude this by saying, “I miss you.”
A lifetime feels like a blink of an eye. I pray my children never endure the loss of their mother until I am old, wrinkly and have lived a well-spent life full of lessons learned, trials and victories – all celebrated by giving thanks to God. In honor of you I love my children wholly. In remembrance of you I devote my time to bettering my situation so that in some small way I make you proud. And because I love you, I occasionally sit through the entire Amy Grant song we played the last time I ever saw you… I cry, I breathe in and exhale, and then I go on with my life. For you, I go on. I pray I always will.