She had been engaged less than twenty-four hours when I put the finishing touches on it. On her gift.
You see, I knew it was coming, the ring, and so I had been working feverishly for a week to piece together something special.
My baby sister will be getting married and our mother has died and I find myself taking on the role that was left void, that crisp morning in October, nearly three years ago.
I decided to enlist the contributions of all the women most important to our mom: our family and close friends, females who loved her and love us and would love on my sister as she stepped into a brand new phase of life.
Quickly I received confirmation from each person I had contacted. Yes, they would be sending letters, yes, yes, yes. I awaited their well wishes, and advice, and words of wisdom, as if it were my thesis.
As evening tucked way into night, I got a text:
"Ang, I'll have my note over to you this evening. And, also, I'll be sending your mom's."
My mom's note?
My mom's note.
MY MOM'S NOTE.
Sure enough, it came through. Not in her pen however, because this was a unique situation. My mom, in her final six months of life, was too scared of what it meant to write to her kids. Knowing her as I did, I am certain that for her to sit down and write these letters, meant she ceased to fight.
And my mama fought. Oh she fought.
So they played a game, she and her best friend. States apart, they curated letters for us, her children - through phone calls, emails, and the like.
Without my sweet mother sitting at a desk to scrawl in her tell-tale script, giving in and giving up, they were able to craft countless words to be handed to us at later dates.
And as it would happen, the first of these would come to me, for my newly engaged sister, on a warm night in July.
I wept. I wept tears hot and heavy, full and searing.
I wept for what I did not know all those months, I wept for the best friend of my mother's who did such a painful and selfless thing, I wept for the knowledge of all the things to come - things my mom knew she would be missing.
And so, last week, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros our soundtrack, I gingerly passed this gift, over to my sister.
"Dear Robinhood," it began (her nick name for my sister), "You are getting married, and I can not be there..."
I struggle even today to read the rest of the note, which, I'll be keeping private out of respect for my sister.
It chokes me.
It sucks the air from my lungs and I weep again.
And at the end of the day, I am not the least bit surprised our mama would do such a thing. I'm not. And yet, it still bites, like the sting of a bee. And I struggle to break from it. I struggle to breathe.
The missing of her. The sadness I feel. The way it takes you back to the worst days of grief.
It softens some, that pain, but I know there are more notes to come. And so, I know there is more pain. Good pain, you know? Pain you want to feel, even through the bleeding of it.
Oh mama, you were more amazing than you ever realized. And we loved you oh, so very much...
- - - - - - - -
For what feels like an eternity now, I've wondered why I can't seem to sit and finish the memoir I'm 80k words into. Sure, it felt like the story wasn't finished. The redemption, still working it's way to surface.
This. These letters. Suddenly it's clear. It's vivid like the first light of day, I couldn't finish it because there was so much I didn't know.
There is still, so much I don't know.
I do know one thing, and that is, I'll finish this race. I'll write every last word and I'll do it for her and with her, in spirit.
If you need me, I'll be writing.