A Letter I Will Never Get To Send
But Don't Need To: A Merry File
On this, the 12th anniversary of your departure from Earth, these are just some of the things I wish to say to you.
Thank you for showing me what unconditional love looks like. And feels like. It is almost impossible for a child to understand, on a soul level, what the love of a mother for her child feels like. But even before I had children, I knew that. Truly, deeply knew that. It is a monumental feat you pulled off. I don’t know how you did it. But you did.
Thank you for teaching me the importance of showing your child not only unconditional love, but also unconditional acceptance. You showed me love. You also showed me like. As you helped guide me and shape me, you had a deep understanding of who I was at my core. And you liked me anyway.
Your greatest achievement as a mother, from my perch, is that you walked the tightrope between friend and boss. It is not an easy balance to strike. But you did. You made it look effortless. It certainly is not. I know now that if you have unconditional love and acceptance of your children for who and what they are, the rope naturally becomes thicker and steadier. And the balancing act becomes slightly less treacherous. Many fall into one camp or the other - parent or friend - and have strong opinions about which role to play. But not you. You did both. You walked that that tightrope with delicacy and grace - seeming to always know just when to be a friend, and just when to be a parent. And when to be the perfect mix of both.
There are no silver linings to your death. None. But one thing that I am grateful for is that the void left by your physical absence has been filled, if only in part, by the growth of other relationships. My sister and I each called you our best friend. Now that is what we call each other. You were right about your brother. He is one of the finest souls still here on earth, and he has stepped into the role of one of my biggest champions. You were right about your sister. Her ability to live in, and to share, her truth and her love are great gifts. You were right about your husband. My dad. He has a story - as do we all - but it took me a long time to show grace and understanding for his. I am grateful that as we are finding our way to seeing where our stories merge, we still have the chance to write the ending.
I want you to know that one of my deepest traumas is the moment that your soul departed your earthly body. I worried that it was for you too. But I have been assured by people far more knowledgeable about these things than I, that your journey from Earth to Heaven was a peaceful and blissful one. I choose to believe this. And that has helped me heal.
I want you to know that you gave me a great gift when you shared with me your singular fear about dying. I made you a promise then. And I have kept that promise. It was not a burden. It was an honor. I hope that you have seen that, and that it gives you comfort.
I want you to know that Burke is so much like me. But that unlike me at his age, he innately knows to stop and smell the roses. He gets that from you. I want you to know that Jagger said to me: not too many fifteen-year-old boys are as close to their mothers as he and I are. That made my heart soar with joy, absolute joy, because I might be just managing to walk that tightrope myself. Only time will tell, but it looks like I’m doing well so far living up to the standards you set. In that department at least.
I want you to know that you were right about my husband, their father. He loves them. Unconditionally. And he shows up for them. Always.
I want you to know that I am still me. I still mess up. A lot. And I fall down. A lot. But I try harder than I ever have to learn and to grow from my mistakes. To get back up and keep moving forward. To be accountable. To say that I am sorry. To mean it. And to continually strive to do better.
I want you to know that one of the greatest gifts of my life is that after your passing, I never for a moment had to suffer the regret or unbearable weight of having left things unsaid. You knew how much I loved, cared for, and respected you. As a mother and as a person. I have not always been open with my heart, and to this day it remains a struggle, but with you my heart was as wide open as it could be. As yours was for me. For that, I am grateful.
And even though I will never get to send you this letter, you already know all of this, don’t you? I know this deep in my soul to be true. And it isn’t because I keep your contacts in their case, as you left them, on my dresser so that I can cling to the childlike belief that this allows you to see me.
No. It is because you are with me. All day. Every day. Steadfastly by my side. Continuing to offer me guidance, unconditional love, and even on my worst days and through my biggest failings as a wife, mother, sister or friend, you still like me. As me - the ever evolving, ever aspiring to be as stellar a human as you were - me.
I love you Pretty Lady. Heart, body, mind, soul and spirit.