These are days I really could use being able to talk to you.
I think we would be spending a lot of time together, you and I. I wish I had made more time for you when you were still here. I know you would say it’s okay, that I did my best, but I would give almost anything to have those days back.
My kids are almost all grown up, Mama. How did this happen so fast? I wonder, did you feel like someone had sucked all the air out of the room the afternoon I told you at 16 that I was pregnant and by the end of the day I was a bride and three weeks later I was a wife? Because I have a daughter who is nearing 16 and thank God she has so much more sense than I did and already in her young life is wiser than I was at three times her age, but she’s growing up so quickly and I already miss her and she isn’t even gone yet.
How did you do it, Mama? How did you watch your kids grow up and move on in their lives without running after them and begging them to slow down and let you hold them just a little bit longer? Because sometimes that’s how I feel.
Life seems to be speeding up and I want it to slow down so I can breathe and squeeze the essence out of each little moment and why aren’t you here so I can ask you all these things?
The grief books lied. They told me it would get easier, the missing you. It isn’t easier.
I don’t miss you less like they said. I miss you bigger and deeper and more gut-crushingly than anything I could ever have thought grieving could be.
You’re gone too soon and I can’t make you come back and I am mad. Oh, I am so mad, Mama, and not at you and not at God but just mad because you should be here. We should be spending this time together, these hours that are coming so lonely, should be talking over coffee and joking silly like we used to and starting cookie dough fights and stirring chicken and dressing with our hands and playing UpWords and plotting pranks.
It’s been five years, and still sometimes in the night I cry for you. Well, sometimes in the day, too. Sometimes the only way I can get through this is to just not think about you, but that empty is worse. I would rather feel the pain than to not feel you.
I miss you, Mama. And I love you now even more than I did, and I wish I could I could hug you and tell you how these days I’m living through right now make me long for you more than I could ever have imagined.
The tears I shed for you, though, I consider a gift because they mean you are still part of me, still nestled deep in my heart where you will always remain. I see you a little more clearly each year in my bathroom mirror staring back at me, the you reflecting through my own features. Rosie has your smile, and sometimes when she turns a certain way I draw in my breath at the resemblance. How I wanted her to know you longer.
I take these things to God, and I ask Him to heal the hurt so I can keep going, keep trying to mother my children, even as they are so swiftly taking flight, with the fierceness and courage of the woman who mothered me.
If I can’t make you come back, at least I can make you proud.