It’s very strange to think that I haven’t talked to my mom in two years. I haven’t heard her tell me that I’m her favorite daughter (I’m her only daughter) or that she loves me or simply that everything is going to be all right.
Over the last two years I have realized it’s hearing little things like that, that I miss the most about not having my mom here anymore. Especially since I’m like a child in the sense that I never tired of hearing stories from her about myself as a baby. I always asked to hear, and she would always tell me without complaint, how she was absolutely certain that she was growing a tiny alien when she was pregnant with me. This is because I used to sit in there and run my fingers down the inside of her stomach. I can imagine myself doing it, too. It certainly sounds like something I would do. She said it was the weirdest feeling ever. It’s because of this story that I tell the kids I watch that I’ve had a tickle monster inside of me since before I was born.
Another good one that I liked to hear her tell is- well, let me back up, the first thing you need to know is that when I was a toddler, I had this weird accent. I really have no idea where it came from, especially considering that as an adult, I have almost no discernible accent. So when I was three, my favorite color was purple (shocking!) and one day, my mom picked out this pink dress for me to wear and I straight up told her I didn’t want to wear pink, I wanted to wear “puhhhpul.” It’s the way she said “puhhpul” that made the story so funny to me. Her impression of me saying purple as well as her telling me that I wanted us to be together because we were “guuhls” (girls) never failed to make me laugh.
I wanted to talk about what has changed in the second year without her compared to the first year. Everyone grieves differently, and this has been my experience compared to last year: I miss her just as much but it’s a little easier not to cry about it. I don’t get the urge to call her anymore, although I still wish that I could. I still think about her everyday, but not the entire day. I no longer feel the weight of my grief holding me down, although some days are still better than others. And the biggest difference between this year and last is that my memories of her are much more pleasant and I no longer feel any guilt whatsoever.
As far as what hasn’t changed…how much I love her, for one. I still want a hug from her, I probably always will. I’m also still not ready to celebrate her life because even with so much progress- and there has been a lot of progress– I’m still not there yet. I feel like I can’t truly celebrate her life like she deserves from me, which is genuinely, until I’m more happy that she’s free than sad that she’s gone. I haven’t reached that point yet, even though I realize how selfish it sounds. However, even though I know without a doubt she wouldn’t want me to be sad, she definitely wouldn’t want me to pretend to be happy when I’m not. She knew how important she was and is to me and would be able to see right through it anyway. She didn’t even have to see me to know if something was wrong, she could always detect it in my voice, even if I was deliberately trying to hide it. She knows how bad I am at pretending, hell, it’s because of her that I’m so incorrigibly genuine.
I think as a daughter, sister, cousin, niece, friend, babysitter and whoever else I am to anyone- the most important concept I’ve come to accept from a major loss is that now, more than ever, I want to take responsibility for the people that love me. By that, I mean do whatever it takes with what little control I have over how long I live to keep myself happy, healthy and safe so I can be around as long as possible. I hope that the people that I love take responsibility too, because I don’t want to miss anyone else. I can see how easy it is to get wrapped up in my own worries, or even fun, for that matter- without regard to what life would be like without me for everyone else. And I’ve learned that if someone loves me, I should hold that in extremely high regard because I would never wish losing someone you love on anyone. Especially if I love them, and especially if it’s forever.
Rest in peace, Mom. It’s been two years since you left, but your influences continue to live on in my life daily. If I become even half the woman that you were, I’ll be doing pretty well. I miss you and I love you. You’re the bestest in the westest.
Peggie Anne Gardner
April 15, 1951-April 19, 2011