Right after I lost my mom to cancer, everything was tangible.
I could tell you the last place we went to lunch together (Mello's Pizza). I could recall whether we were at my parents home for Easter or my in-laws (In laws). I could quick rattle off the last time I had heard her laugh (...).
Now, nearly three years later, it's all so, very, different. Those details fade a bit, much to my dismay. If I don't intentionally remember them, they blow into the wind.
In three years, I've had countless friends lose a parent. I've wept with them, for them. I've sat back and watched grief unfold. I've wanted to reach out and grab it from them, to stuff it in my own pocket or toss it over a hill. But, I can't, we can't. We have to walk through it.
In three years I've seen my children heal, sometimes so much that they forget. I don't want to forget. I don't want to forget a thing, and yet time does that thing where you don't even realize what's happening, but before you know it, you're doing the hard things, and they don't hurt as much. And you realize that, and it hurts a lot.
In three years I've watched people close to me take for granted what they have. I've had to bite my tongue when all I want to do is yell "THEY MIGHT NOT BE HERE TOMORROW!". But you can't, you don't do that. Because they simply do not know...
In three years I've experienced Mother's Days and birthdays, Christmases and Spring flowers and Summer nights and thunderstorms - countless trips around the sun, with a gaping hole in my heart.
She, the one who made my children any food they wanted. She who loved the homeless and less fortunate. She who in the face of death said "why *not* me?".
She. She's gone and life continues to move and I continue to live, three years is an eternity and it's one breath. It's a lifetime and it's a blink.
And for three years I've written about her, and about loss, and grief - here, in this space. And I've written in a document. 80,000 words to be exact. I've written a story of redemption and grace, one that guts me to re-read, and one that I know I simply must finish.
About this time each year I feel it and I step into it. The changing of the season, and each year I get closer, but the finish line has never quite been within reach.
Perhaps this year. This may be the year.
Until then, I stare at her, in the portraits I've taken. Ones like these being my favorite. The every day, ones I likely almost deleted for technical purposes, but now, if I close my eyes, and allow my mind to lead me, I'm right back there in her kitchen.
She's making them food, we'll soon go on a walk, or out to her garden. The house smells of baked goods. The Bee Gees are playing. The baby is laughing. I'm with her, and I'm home.
That's where I like to stay, in my mind. Maybe that's where I need to be to finish. Time will only tell.
Thank you for being a space in which I can remember, share. For many years, I've been blessed to be able to write and feel loved and at peace from people near and very far, and I'm forever grateful for that.