I’ve been alive 14,504 days. It’s been 1,095 days since my mom passed away from cancer on December 18, 2012. That means I have now lived 7.5% of my life without my mom. That number is staggering to me. But from the reverse perspective, I lived 92.5% of my life with her. That’s 13,409 days my brain filled itself with memories of my mom.
That’s a lot of memories. No wonder they flicker through my mind on a regular basis. Like the slide show projector flashing pictures onto the giant screen in the library during my elementary school open house, where there was no beginning or end, just constant looping snapshots of elementary school life, thousands of memories of my mom loop on the giant screen in my brain. As the parents at the open house could pop in and out of the room taking in the show as they pleased, so can I pop in and out of my memory loop running just outside my consciousness.
This time of the year is always hard for me, the memories flicker quickly and consistently. All that activity in my brain led me to want something tactile I could hold in my hand when I wanted to feel a physical connection to my mom. So, I went to the store and found a metal piece used in jewelry making that says “LOVED” on it. I bought one for me and one for my mom. (She would be happy they were on sale for half price.) And on a mild-weathered afternoon last week I drove out to visit her.
My mom’s spirit is with me everywhere, I talk to her whenever and wherever I feel like it, but that’s like an ethereal WiFi connection. Visiting her grave feels like connecting to her spirit with a dedicated USB cable. Putting my hands on the cool, smooth stone of her marker made my mom feel so tangible to me again. I sat on the ground next to her headstone for nearly an hour, alternately talking to her and sitting quietly, enjoying the serene landscape.
High in the leafless December trees was a flock of large black birds. As I carried on my conversation with my mom, the quiet birds seemed to suddenly squawk every time I said something where my mom would have answered me. I took it as a comforting sign that she was listening, and when I said something that would have made my mom laugh and the birds erupted in a loud chorus of “kaws” I burst out laughing at the confirmation that she heard me.
I told her what I would have told her if she had been standing in front of me. How much I miss talking with her. How much I miss her laugh and her smile. How much I miss her hugs. I don’t care how old you are, nobody hugs you like your mom, and there are some days I ache to my bones for one more mom-hug. That one warm hug that makes you feel safe and loved and like no matter what, you are the best thing that ever happened to her. I would have given anything to have her sitting on that hill next to me listening to the breeze and looking out at all the trees.
I didn’t want to leave. I wished I could have sat there with her all day. But eventually it was time to go. I took her “LOVED” remembrance token and pushed it like a spade down into the dirt and grass next to her headstone, in hopes it will stay with her, enduring the elements as time passes. I put mine in my pocket. As they had been for the last hour, tears were rolling down my cheeks faster than I could wipe them away. By the time I had said my final goodbye, I was crying so hard I could barely see as I walked away. The flock of birds let out a cacophony of sound, in their final moment as my mom’s mouthpiece, letting me know she felt the same.
I don’t believe I’ve ever voluntarily written a poem before. And I’m not even sure this can be considered one. But whatever this grouping of sentences is, I was inspired to write it tonight.
I Carry You With Me Into The Everyday
I carry you with me into the everyday.
Into every day’s everyday moments.
Into my exclamation points and my question marks and my simple sentences.
Mom would’ve loved that! Mom would’ve hated that! That would’ve made Mom laugh!
When they play a song you used to sing,
I laugh remembering how you made up your own lyrics.
When I discover a movie I know you’d have loved,
I feel incomplete because I can’t share it with you.
When I stand at the door of the garage smelling the rain,
I can feel you standing with me.
When I drive towards a breathtaking sunrise or walk out into a breeze that’s the kind we used to like to walk in, under a sky with just enough clouds to make you appreciate the true depth of the universe,
I ask you if you can believe how amazing this is.
I regret the times we fought.
I’ve told you you were right more times now than I ever would have admitted when you were here.
I try to be kind and thoughtful, as you taught me by example.
Out of the blue a funny phrase you used to say will pop into my head and suddenly you are here.
I find your words coming out of my mouth when I least expect it.
I find myself absentmindedly singing to myself alone in the kitchen and I now understand why you used to do the same…I hear your voice drifting in the air.
When I look into the mirror I see parts of your face blended into my own staring back at me.
You have forever intertwined yourself into my world.
I wish we could talk.
I wish we could laugh.
I want to know your opinions.
I want to hear your stories. Again.
Though you can no longer squeeze my hand when I’m scared or hug me when I’m sad,
When I need you, you are still always there.
Closer to me than ever before.
Because I carry you with me. Always.
I sometimes imagine the moment we are reunited.
I see us hugging and talking over one another,
Anxious to catch up on what our lives were like while you were in Heaven and I was still on earth.
Having all the conversations we couldn’t have when we were separated.
Laughing and crying and laughing some more.
Until that day, I will carry you with me, closer than ever before.