To the woman I never knew,
You left me twenty-seven years ago. That’s a long time for a little girl to be without her mother.
I remember you had hair that would shine bright auburn in the summer sun and how your green eyes sparkled when you smiled. I remember you teaching me how to shave my legs and letting me drive your car. I remember you always dancing and humming to some silent song. I remember your favorite color was green and the little birdcage music box that played ‘Love Story’ that you cherished but I never knew why.
I forgot what our last lucid conversation was about. I forgot the last time I told you I loved you. I forgot the way your laugh sounded or the way you smelled. I forgot to ask you what your grandmother was like or the name of your first pet.
You never watched me graduate or walk down the aisle. You never met my children even though one shares part of your name. You never knew the women I have become and I never knew the women that you were.
I share your hair, your mouth, your affinity for astrology and science fiction movies. I share your green thumb and your love for nature.
A twelve-year-old girl shouldn’t have to bath you or pretend it doesn’t hurt when you don’t know her name when she walks into the room. A twelve-year-old girl shouldn’t have to set her alarm to make sure her dad and sister were up in time to go to work and school. A twelve-year old girl shouldn’t have to flag down a passing car because you had a seizure while driving. A twelve-year-old girl shouldn’t have to watch you deteriorate in front of her eyes or endure puberty alone.
But I did.
I resented you for the longest time. Marie ran away from home shortly after your death and dad started drinking. He stayed depressed even though he tried his best to remain strong for me. I had to learn how to clean, cook, and take care of Dad. Some nights I would get a friend to drop me off at the bar so I could drive him home. This went on for a little over a year until grief finally took him away from me as well.
I’m not writing this to make you feel bad, but to know that I forgive you and want to say thank you. Without your absence I wouldn’t know what it’s like to reclaim my voice. What it’s like to be strong. What it’s like to be brave. What it’s like to feel alone so you cherish the relationships around you. What it’s like to not be materialistic because everything can be gone in an instant. And finally, I wouldn’t know what it’s like to overcome. What it’s like to finally breathe again.
I love you,