I have written this letter so many times in my mind. There are so many things I wanted to say but never go the chance before you passed away. In the movies, there is always a long drawn out moment before people pass that everyone gets to say how they feel, but I have found this rarely happens in real life. Even though I think we both knew for some time that your time was drawing close, we never wanted to say it out loud. Even in hospice care, I just couldn’t bring it up and you were not totally coherent at that point. I told you I loved you and that you were a good mom, and I think you heard me. I am sorry you didn’t get to talk to the kids. I know you wanted to, and I brought them, but we couldn’t wake you up by that time. Each one touched you and said they loved you and I thought you squeezed my hand. I think you knew. Honestly, as a mom, I was a bit relieved that they didn’t have to say goodbye because I couldn’t bring myself to do it and I can’t imagine them having the ability to. You and I weren’t always good at the tough conversations.
I just went a few weeks ago to visit your graveside. I hadn’t been back since the service in June. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m not a grave visitor. But Glenn says it’s ok because there are no rules for grieving and we as the survivors just do what we feel is good for us and not what some expectations are. Your headstone turned out really nicely. It’s made from rock from the NC mountains that I know you loved so much. It has an inscription about being with the Lord and dogwood flowers on it, which I know were your favorite. Glenn chose a great spot for you, close to Miss Janet. God’s hand was in that because those plots were not supposed to be sold as singles, but someone had just accidentally sold one in a set of four and so we were able to get one for you. Now there are three older ladies buried on either side of you. I think you would smile to see that. It makes me happy to know you aren’t alone there. Not that you are there, because I know you aren’t, but it makes me happy just the same.
Baby William arrived October 15, 2018 and his delivery was difficult as I imagined it would be. The whole time I was reminded of you and missing you. Glenn said he came and showed you his picture at your graveside just after he was born. You would love him, of course. It comforts me to see that Glenn is missing you so much more than I expected he might, and that I am not alone in my grief. It saddens me to think that only Sam and Jordan will really have memories of you. Josh and Elijah will likely have some vague ones but Luke will not remember at all I don’t think. I wish that were different. I wish they could know you as I did. I am thankful though that you had 82 years. So many people don’t get that chance and to think you could have died when I was a teenager and you had your first heart attack. God was gracious to allow us more time.
Christmas was hard. I knew it would be. It’s was more the time leading up to it than the actual day. The Sunday before, I stayed home and cried most of the day. I knew everyone would be all “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays” and I just couldn’t do it. But grief is like that. It comes up at the most unexpected times and you just have to allow yourself space to feel it all and roll with it. Your birthday wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be. We had a dinner you would like and made you a cake and ice cream.
In some ways it feels like it’s been forever since you passed and then again no time at all. I don’t think I have fully accepted you are really gone. I feel like sometimes I will see you somewhere or you will call me, but then I realize the truth. I struggle with not feeling alone. I told my counselor that it feels like I have no anchor anymore and I’m just drifting alone. This is when I really wish I had siblings, although I do have Travis, which I am so thankful for. I think being adopted and having your parents divorce at a young age just leaves scars of fear of being alone that you never get over. I find myself having to fight an irrational fear that something will happen to Glenn and then I will really be alone. Again, I know that isn’t true, but it’s how I feel. I can’t imagine being a single parent and raising kids like you did. You did a great job of moving past some impossible situations and making the best of them. I inherited my strength and stubbornness from you.
I know the last year we had was difficult. I know you were in such a difficult situation of having to live with us and being sick most of the time. I know you never wanted that and I didn’t want it for you. I feel like we got through it pretty well most of the time. I’m sorry for not always being kind and patient. I know you felt bad for being difficult at times. Overall, as I said to you once, I was so glad I could have that opportunity to leave it all on the table and care for you so that you would have no doubt that I loved you. I am so glad we had that season in our lives. The memories of having you here are priceless and I’m glad the kids got the chance to spent those months with you so closely too.
I know I am just writing this letter for myself mostly, although I do believe that the vial between here and heaven is much thinner than we think and that you might be able to see this and what goes on here. If so, know that I loved you and you are missed so greatly. But as I told you right before you passed, I will be ok. I am finding my way to being ok. Not that I will ever get passed this or over it, but through it to find my new normal.