I can’t feel you around me like I thought I would. I had no doubt you’d live forever — as I’ve always believed that god / love / energy never dies, it just transforms — but I ache for the way you used to exist. A text away, long and heartfelt phone calls. A hug, one of your beloved emojis. Just a five minute drive away. I had expected to feel you with me, to hear you, somehow. This is not at all what I imagined, and I am struggling exorbitantly with it.

There are subtle things throughout my day that remind me of you. And ginormous things. I’m trying to comfort myself in the only ways I do see you showing up in my life. Pretending that they’re you; that it’s you, still here.

You’re in every tear, every sob that erupts from my throat by its own accord, unannounced. You’re there in every “Sheesh” anyone utters. I see you when my little sister insists, uncharacteristically.

You’re there in the way I rub my nose, and pick my teeth with my pinkie finger. You’re in my chest, deep and heavy right now. In almost every song on the radio; old, new, it never mattered to you, music was your heaven.

Your clothes are sitting in my laundry room because I don’t know what to do with them. Your paperwork piled in our living rooms waiting to be sorted and dumped, filed and cherished. Your hair brushes in every bag you owned. The memory of your smirk is there every time I close my eyes, and your head bobbing while in the hospital. Your resignation to the reality you were leaving us. Your breathing as you left.

You’re there in the way I burned Mother’s Day brunch. You’re there in Carole King’s voice. In my daughter’s stubbornness, her sarcasm, her laugh. You’re a part of each and every pep talk I’ve given my girls, demanding that they see their true selves. Your muddy rain boots that came home to my back porch.

You’ve been there each time I’ve seen a mom with her child, her grandchild. You had a way of nurturing everyone around you with your tenderness and sharp edges. You were a unique blend of all redeemable qualities.

You’re there in my moods that have encompassed every incarnation of heartbreak; from wailing, to resignation, to fury, to love.

It’s one thing to be left by your mom, but entirely another to be left by a mother who loves you and encourages you with every fiber of her being. You were the sun we orbited.

You’re there in my worry that I’ll only ever be able to write about you now. That there will be a dark sadness to everything I do.

You’re there in the way we discussed UTIs and hemorrhoids at dinner the other night. When I just gave Verizon a piece of my mind.

Your belongings filling every open space that you claimed. They are now our things. Our items to sort, discard, or love. You’re in every corner I turn when I forget to blinker. Every infomercial, chicken tostado salad, sympathy card that has been arriving in the mail without ceasing. In this piano music piping in through the speakers above me.

Somehow you were bigger than the rest of us, overarching, protecting and growing us all.

You’re in the acute joy and grief that is coexisting in my heart right now. The deep grooves in my brow. In my very marrow. You are a part of me, and I a part of you. Forever connected. We belong to each other in a way that no one else has ever belonged to anyone else before. For you are my mom, the best mom to have ever lived, to have ever been torn away too soon.

I’m trying to go about my life like before, and for a fraction of time I think I might resemble who I used to be, but then something gets forgotten, overlooked, messed up, and suddenly there you are, filling the places where other important things used to reside. I’m not the same person I was before, I know I won’t ever be, and that’s okay, I wasn’t a big fan of her anyway. There’s something else in here with me now, something heavy that shares my space.

I could barely get my mouth around the words “heart failure,” how can I possibly handle a word like “death?” I’ve been throwing it into conversation, feigning casual, but it’s a knife to my gut. “Just after my mom died…” as if it’s a perfectly normal and acceptable thing to say. Like it can possibly encompass the enormity of what happened to you. You didn’t die. You were ripped, wrenched from us, leaving us gaping and raw, broken, and forever altered.


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