So, where do I start? The hole that’s in my heart grows more and more as I come to understand that you are truly gone. Honestly, it takes my breath away and as much as I try to push down those feelings, I’m finding I simply can’t do that much longer. Ulcers, stomach pains, and headaches are telling me that I need to start what others call the ‘healing’ process. But to me, it’s not healing at all – it’s actually scarring which will be with me always and will still cause me pain when I bump against it. And you know, the funny thing about all of this is that the one person in the world who could comfort me best is you. You.
I feel so selfish though because I’m crying so much for me…for losing my support, my rock, my best friend, the person who loved me more than anyone else in the world ever has. Ma, I’m scared to be without you…so scared of what my life will be without you. I miss our Sunday lunches…our card playing…our trips…our eating Mexican and then getting too stuffed…our jokes…our conversations…our laughs. You always made me happy. Always.
Something else I’m struggling with is guilt. So much fucking guilt, ma…and it’s eating me up. What you went through with Richard is making me vomit whenever I think about it. I should have helped you more. Tried harder to get you away from him. Drug you to the police. Forced you to go to the DV shelter for help. There are so many ‘shoulds’ that I have running through my brain and they torment me. You always protected me and did everything you could for me and in turn, I feel like I failed you. Remember when I apologized to you in the hospital for this? I’ll never ever forget what you said to me: “Kristi, you did all you could.” I heard that ma…but just can’t believe it yet.
I also didn’t know how much you were drinking because you hid it so well. Sometimes I’d call you at night and knew you were drunk just because of your slurred words. But I truly thought those were one-offs…not a nightly thing. I’ve been going through tons of old photos and can now see the signs in your face during that time. And you know, I also see the difference in your eyes over time: I have a pic of you when you were with Richard (don’t worry, ma…he’s going to a very different place than where you are) and drinking, and your eyes are empty. Glazed. Vacant. After you left and settled in to what you call the best years of your life, they brightened and sparkled. What an awesome transition that is to see!
You know, I think a lot about your strength and class. I know you and pop divorcing was devastating for you. I saw your pain…your tears…and then your strength when you pulled yourself out and started to live again. Fighting back against Richard was horrifying; I remember you at the shelter as we were getting your OP and then going in front of the judge. You were shaking so hard beside me and grasping my hand to where I had indentations from your nails. But you persevered even with the fear of retaliation from him. And then you grew. And grew. And grew.
Your quilting business blew me away. Who knew you had such a keen business sense? What you built in the span of just a couple of years, and then worked at for over 15, was amazing. So many of your customers came to pay their respects to you, and Terri and I were so proud to hear them talk about your kindness…sweetness…talent…helpfulness. We were gobsmacked. You made such an impression on everyone you met and everything they said was true. Completely true.
So Terri told me what you said to her before you lost your ability to talk – “I want Kristi to be OK and I don’t want you to worry in your life.” Terri has been wonderful with me and has taken over the role of older sister seriously. We talk multiple times a day and are always checking up on one another. We’ve worked together on your house and haven’t had any sort of disagreement at all. We know you’d be proud. And when she came over the other day, she said “I’m going to hug you now!” Then we looked at each other and laughed. We both know Terri isn’t a hugger…but she knows how much I need that and is comforting me so much…I hope I’m doing the same for her. Little does she know she’ll be a champion hugger in a few months.
And ma, I know you wanted me to have your house but honestly, I just can’t do that. You are too much there and I don’t think I’d ever be able to move on to the degree I should in those surroundings. I would also feel like I was taking your place in a way…something no one could ever ever do. I do have your living room furniture though, and when I look at the chair you always sat in to read and sew and watch TV, I see you. In your jammies from Kohl’s with a scrubbed face and damp hair. I love that picture of you so much.
I talk to you everyday, ma and I hope you can hear my words…I know I can hear you. Understand that I’m never going to stop having you in my whole heart…never let go of your hand…never ever say goodbye. And when I see you again, I’d better get a damn big hug.
Thanks, ma. You were truly the best mom I could ever have. There are a lot of things that haven’t gone right in my life, but you were always there. Always. And having had that for all of these years makes up for anything else.
Love you ma. Love you more.