Tomorrow makes 15 years since my mom passed away.
3 years 4 months since I’ve been a mom without a mom.
I say it like I’ve just received a chip for being so many days sober. It’s an accomplishment I’ve survived. It’s a miracle I’ve thrived.
This time every year I open her memory box that I started after she died. It holds all the cards she wrote me, pictures, all the notes we received after her passing, her funeral pamphlets and other things mommy.
This is how I visit her, hug her and feel her.
My mom has a place in my home but now it’s a light and airy presence. It is now welcoming, so fresh new memories and people can enter too.
A single photo that Layla knows as Granny Maria.
This comes with time. This comes in healing. This comes at your own pace. Let their photos hold your walls up until you are ready to hold them up on your own. Allow yourself that gift.
I speak to Layla about her often. I have to keep it simple, factual and concrete. ‘Granny Maria died, we can’t see her anymore.’
But I believe in ‘magic’ so I tell her she’s far away in heaven.
That to my three year old is the space of white clouds where Mr. Moon and Mr. Sun live.
I like that thought.
I think of a day not too long ago where I had one of my hard mom days where the tears soaked both our faces and emotion took us both. I wanted my mom- she would know what to do.
“Layla you are not listening to me!”
Where she replies enough to match my tone, “You did not listen to Granny Maria.”
I see this little human staring back at me. A world of emotions in her eyes. I wonder if this is what my mom saw in me.
Well played mom. Well played.
As I flip through the photos and the cards I linger a little longer on a card. I remember when she gave it to me.
I was 15, two years shy of her death. A teenager who hit puberty way too fast. I hated my body. Why couldn’t I just be skinny?
She found me in tears trying on shorts. She wrapped me up in her arms and covered me in beautiful words. Then gave me a card she had wrote for me a couple weeks before my birthday. I treasure this memory and that I had the chance to have these big feelings with her.
I keep browsing the memories of her.
Her laugh was hearty, her food was amazing, she brought people together despite battling demons I’ll never understand. Nor will I ever get to ask her about now that I’m older,
Luckily, for me in the years that I did have her, she was an open book. She was my first teacher at vulnerability. She told me all the stories. Never sugar coated. She helped me understand her life and never skipped over her hardships. It’s almost like she knew she had this much time with me so she was going to tell me all she could. I’ll never take that for granted.
I have an amazing step mom. One that has loved me through all of this. One that didn’t deserve the rath of my 16 year old self. A step mom who reminds me of how that relationship will also be important in Layla’s life as she now too has a step mom.
I often wonder if I was mean to her because of my mom. That maybe I blamed her. My mom was gone. Wouldn’t my mom want me to be mean to her?
Now, I doubt in the goodness that was my mom she would of wanted me to hate anyone. Even so, after the inner child work I’ve done I’ve finally learned that it is not my job to continue her life. Her wishes were hers. She would want me to live my life.
As the tears hang loosely around me, a garment that’s a comfy oversized sweater on a cool morning, I touch my heart center.
I’m still alive. So now I must live.
Just in case she’s lingering around,
‘Mom I still haven’t mastered your banana bread recipe no matter how much ‘love’ I add. You were the secret ingredient. I miss you. You would of loved the fire of Layla and the sweet brave boy of Mason. Everyone remembers your laugh. Don’t worry about me. I’ve got this’
Signed: Your Daughter