This is a terrible picture. It’s also one of the last ones we have of Mom.
My baby sister Karissa had given birth to her first kid, and had just gotten home from the birthing center. We swarmed around our new little baby, doting, but when I looked back, Mom was snuggled up with her baby, doting. She spent the next few days sleeping during the day, so she could stay up all night with the new baby and let her old baby sleep. That was Mom, relentlessly there.
Within a few short days she thought she was getting sick and begrudgingly stayed away so her babies wouldn’t get sick. Thirty-three days after I took this picture, she was gone.
We lost Mom, but what makes me even more sad is that she lost everything. She missed first steps and first words and a first day of preschool. She missed a year-long adventure in Australia and the new manager where she ate most often. She missed first jobs and first cars and 21st birthday bashes. She missed art awards and theater productions and blue and then red hair. She missed remodels and new homes, and Christmases and Tamale days and family nights. She missed the end of This Is Us, an entire pandemic, and the closing of stores (that we can now prove she single-handedly kept open): Pier One, Tuesday Morning, and Bed Bath and Beyond. The entire world has seemed to shift without her.
Many believe that her spirit is around, and that’s great. But if Mom was still alive she wouldn’t have simply hovered around us, she would have been relentlessly here—hands in the masa, butt in her usual booth, feet in flip flops mid-winter, lips around a straw while driving without a seatbelt to school performances (late, but still going around and around the roundie-rounds to make the grandbabies laugh), fingers curled around a goblet on margarita night, arms on the table drawing out house plans and writing ideas and dreams, heart doting on all her babies—for all of it.