60 months. 262 weeks. 1,821 days. 43,701 hours.
Has it actually been five years since I last saw you, since you passed?
I can’t really begin to comprehend that, honestly. Half the time, I can convince myself it feels like just yesterday but to be candid, it feels like it’s been a decade. You missed out on the fundamental years of my life; the end of middle school, all of high school, and the beginning of college. I didn’t have you for any of that. You never got to see me graduate, help me get ready for a dance, or read over my college applications. You never met a significant other of mine or even read any of my writing. What you knew of my future was that I wanted to be a dancer; you had no idea that I’d start a blog, go to college for creative writing, and have two internship offers already within my first semester. You missed out on so many of the most basic mom-moments, and I envied every girl who did have their mom for those years and took it for granted. I still envy them, and I honestly always will. Through those years, I missed out on having a mother to turn to when nobody else could understand what I was thinking, someone to ask questions to, whether they were the most surface level how-to questions or the times I felt more than lost than I knew how to handle, or someone to laugh and watch old music videos alongside of until we couldn’t stand it anymore. We both missed out on crucial years with each other and though I can now speak of you without a shake in my voice and our memories are thought of with fondness, it aches when I think of what we had ripped away from us. I was fourteen years old. I was barely a teenager when I lost you.
A side effect of this is a kind of numbness or unfazed disposition I’ve developed; it takes me a minute to process that it’s not exactly normal to not have a mother just a phone call away. It’s not until I see my friends reuniting with theirs after a semester or until somebody calls my stepmother my mom that it hits me, and when it does it, it hits me like a punch in the stomach.
You knew a vastly different version of me than the woman I am today, and that’s a new kind of heartbreak, to be completely honest. You knew a soft and fragile girl, so easily hurt by the world around her that she too often took it out on herself. It’s taken me some time, but I’ve grown into a more resilient woman, similar to the way I always saw you. I still remain delicate and kind, patient and compassionate, but I will never be hurt by the same hand twice. I’ve learned I deserve more than that and I’m not sure I would’ve if I didn’t have all the letters you wrote to me tucked in my desk drawer, reminding me I’m worth more kindness than I show myself. Thank you for writing those letters. They’ve become your tangible voice.
I want so badly to be able to sit and talk with you with the mind I have now. We could contemplate realism and write prose and poetry for hours. We could talk about all of the symbolism in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing while making homemade blondies. I could catch you up on everything you’ve missed. I could tell you how proud of Elise you’d be and show you some of my writing, hoping you’d be proud of me too. We could listen to our old favorite songs and I’d play new ones you’d love. I could hear your voice again and even though I haven’t heard it in five years, I’d recognize it anywhere. We could lay on the couch and watch House Hunters like we used to. We could just exist and I’d be so far past happy that there’d need to be a new word for that feeling. It’s the most selfish wish but my god, I could have my mom back.
I’ve never been one to believe in anything other than what I can see in front of me, but I hope with every ounce of my heart that you’re sitting on the sand in Sanibel Island, a Diet Coke in one hand and a book in the other. I hope you read these letters and you know how much I miss you. I hope you know that I’m okay, that I’m happy. I hope you’re proud of me.
I love you always,
P.S. We’d be the same height now. Isn’t that crazy?