A Letter to my Mother – One Year Later, on the Last Day We Spent “Normally”
It sits here, daily, on my desk, and as my Facebook profile pic. The photograph of you and me; the selfie we took after our walk one year ago today – January 28, 2018 – snapped at the morning hour I write this.
It was a day much like today, in regards to weather. The sun shone bright, though it was warmer. There was no snow, surprising for a winter day in Syracuse, New York. I had been visiting you and Dad for several days. We’d had a special time – taking walks, visiting an abolitionist museum, sitting by the fire in the evening, looking at photo albums, reading short stories your grandmother, “Granny Tracy,” wrote about growing up in Rome, Georgia late 1800s, and you, Dad and I meeting your granddaughter, Alison, for dinner (1/27/18).
Four weeks before, you’d been here at our home, for Christmas.
Standing in the driveway after a walk that morning, one year ago today, at 11:37am and 45 seconds, to be exact, we took this photo. It is the last walk and photograph of just the two of us we would take together, on a “normal” given day.
Afterward, we met longtime family friends, Sue and Tory Beeching, for lunch, a mother daughter get together. In the parking lot before Sue and Tory and we went on our separate ways, I suggested a photo. A man happened to be walking by and offered to take it. Sue laughed, like she always likes to do.
This would be the last photograph taken with her best friend – you – for just nine days later, a final hemorrhagic stroke would rob you of your speech, much of your mobility, and ultimately, another nine days later, on February 15, your life.
Therefore, I am especially thankful for these reminders each day and one year later, of that beautiful, now extra special, time we shared together.
When I left for home that afternoon – one year ago today – and drove up the hill, you waved goodbye from the driveway, like you always did. And, like I always did, I rolled down the window, looked back and beeped the horn. You were waving your arms as if you were doing jumping jacks, though your feet were planted firmly on the ground. And you were smiling, like you were daily, sending me on my way with loads of love.
Looking back at this “year of firsts,” Mom, and now today, this “last normal day we spent one year ago,” it hasn’t been easy, to say the least, especially holidays and birthdays.
Valentine’s Day 2018 (the day before you passed)
Fourth of July
Dad’s August birthday
Your Halloween birthday
But truthfully, every day is difficult, and when February 16, 2019 arrives soon – the first day of the second year without you – I can’t imagine there will be any day, week, month, year or event that Dad, our family, I, and your friends, will miss you less. And, Mom, that is a testimony to the wonderful person you were; Kind, loving, forgiving, patient, selfless, and supportive.
Thank you for how much and how you loved. It is why we and so many others loved you so dearly. You were a true “lady.” In every sense “genteel,” full of grace and class, like I recall Granny Tracy being.
Mainly, Mom, you were special, and I your lucky daughter.
Nothing could have prepared me for your loss, not even when I held you the last 5 nights of your life, when I knew you were going to die, because up until then you were still with us.
But in our hearts, Mom, you have not nor will you ever die.
I have no choice but find comfort in the fact you are with me and part of me, each day, everywhere I go and in everything I do. I hear your sweet voice and constant encouragement. I imagine you saying, “it will be okay,” and that gives me strength. Even in the darkest moments, which are most often on “normal days” when it is quiet, the love you gave and embodied continues to give me strength, and always will.
These next few weeks – this “end of the first year” – will not be easy. We miss you so very much. To help ease, or perhaps try to ignore, the pain from losing you physically, I keep busy, by loving those you did and I do. I also continue to write, research, learn new things, and photograph that which I find to be beautiful or important in this world. I remind myself how often you told me you enjoyed looking at my photographs. I take them often thinking of you.
To me, Mom, today, nearly 12 months later – one year minus 18 days – it is still unfathomable that you are no longer with us here on Earth. Moving forward, I will continue to think of and talk to you daily, and though I ache to hear you speak to and hug me again, I feel your love each and every moment.
I pray and believe we will one day be together again and that you are watching over us all. Until then, know how much you are loved, and missed.
Love Your daughter,