It has been ten years and two days since you left. Really, it has been longer than that. Those last few months you weren’t really you anymore. That tough broad with a razor-sharp wit had been reduced to a frail creature whose mind was addled by pain drugs months before you finally let go. Some of us believed you were holding on just to see your newest grand baby and you went ahead and confirmed that suspicion by passing on a little more than a day after you got to hold her.
It was cruel irony that took you away. We fought so much and before you got sick I made peace with our war and knew a lot of it had to do with the abusive situation you were raised in and how very young you were when you brought me into this world. I made peace with us because I knew our relatively close ages for mother and child was a big factor in our conflict and comforted myself with the knowledge that, as a result, we would have a long time to enjoy each others’ company now that we finally did. Yeah, the universe is an asshole like that sometimes.
I find myself wondering what turns my life would have taken had you not been taken away so soon. Would you be proud of the woman I have become, am becoming? Would I have finished school? Would this tragedy or the other have occurred? Would you accept my trans status? Would we fight over it? Would you have named me like I wanted you to for real rather than by proxy from a half remembered conversation a half a life time ago? I don’t know. I don’t know.
Most of us do the best we can without you, and we do our best to step up to the plate for those who cannot. There are so many things I wish you were there for us for. I think Aunt Jean could have really used her little sister when Steve was taken from us. You were always good at the worst of times. I also find myself quizzically grateful for the things you were not here for. I am glad you have not had to deal with some of this, and I feel a little bit guilty for that.
I wish you could have met some of my friends. I think they would like you and you would like many of them. I half suspect you may have become a surrogate, Northern mom for Rachel. You would have gotten a kick out of the young people I have found myself working with for the past couple of years, and may have rolled your eyes at my spending so much time working and playing with people so much younger than I am. I am sure there would have been some kind of comment about “growing up” a tiny fight, and then moving on, which we finally learned to do right before you got sick.
You did your best to be a good example, and while I never gave you credit when you were here, you did a pretty good job of it, better than most. I have learned from that example. I have learned from your lessons and your mistakes and I think I hold to that most important of values you taught me: compassion.
I look at your other kids, my wonderful baby brother and sister (and yeah, they’re both pushing forty themselves now, and probably far more mature than I, but they will always be “baby” brother and sister) and know you would be proud of them. They roll with the punches and are fantastic parents. We all get a little misty from time to time thinking how you would have loved watching your grandbabies grow, or how much you and Liz both would have been bawling your eyes out at Nick’s graduation. We have been there for each other, that above all else, and you made damn sure that if you taught us nothing else, that lesson would stick. “You will never be as close to anyone else in your life as you are to your brother and sister.” Too true, mom. Too true.
I want to apologize for a few things. Don’t worry, I don’t flog myself incessantly over them, not any more. I do my contrition and walk away, and only occasionally worry about them. First, where ever you are, if indeed you are anywhere, and you could hear, I want to apologize on behalf of everyone who complimented me by comparing me to you. It IS a great compliment, you were a beautiful woman even if you never knew it, but I am not so sure you’d want to be compared to me. Feel free to haunt them. I want to apologize for writing this two days late. I thought of nothing but the impending anniversary leading up, but the day of, and yesterday, were a whirlwind of activity. Finally I want to apologize for not doing more of my part to heal that rift between us sooner. I am so grateful we finally did, but would have liked to have had a few more years of quality time with you.
The world is not the same without you, but then it couldn’t be. But it is here, and so are we, and we will keep on doing our best without you. It is all we can do. It is a passing fair best though, you gave us that, in your own rough way. If there is any part of you actually aware out there, I hope you know how much we miss you, because there is still a piece of you here, in our minds and in our hearts.