Thirteen Years

This past Sunday marked 13 years since my mother died. Every year I write her a letter. Last year’s can be found here.

January 24, 2010

Dear Mom,

It is January 24 and you have been dead for 13 years.

I woke up this morning and lay in the dark in bed, listening
to the rain outside and thinking about you. My daughter lay sleeping beside me.
I am a mother now, mom. I have a beautiful baby girl.
Her name is Veronica and she has blue eyes and long fingers and the sweetest
little smile and I love her so much.

She was born on June 10. It had been a rainy week and I was
4 days past my due date. I’d been waiting and waiting for labor to begin. I was
so huge and uncomfortable, so exhausted by all the anticipation. She was
finally born that June night in a birthing center here in Chicago. I labored
without any pain medications, pushed her out of me without anything but my own
strength.

I knew that if I’d been able to survive something like your
death and Dad’s that I could surely give birth the way I most wanted to.

And she was a girl. I wanted a girl so badly, mom. Wanted so
much to have that mother-daughter connection again. And here she is. This
morning, sleeping next to me in bed, her soft breaths and her hot little hand
thrown over my arm, I remembered sharing a bed with you. Usually on Cape Cod when we went to visit Grandma and slept together in her guest room. What I wouldn’t give to have one of those nights back.

Oh mom, in those early days of falling in love with her, in
the early days of becoming a mother I was so overwhelmed with love and with the
understanding of what you and Dad went through, of how very much you loved me.
I could hardly believe it and I spent long afternoons laying in bed with my
sleeping daughter, gazing at her eyelashes and her perfect little face and
knowing how much you truly loved me.

Becoming a mom hasn’t been easy though. There’s so much I
miss about my life before she was born and there’s a lot I’m still figuring out
how to do. Oh, I but I love her so much too. So heartbreakingly much. I want
her to stay just as she is right now forever and I also can’t wait to share
things with her and watch her become a person.

Greg and I are still living in Chicago in the apartment by
the river. We’re doing well, although having a baby has changed our relationship. We’re slowly regaining the ground beneath our feet, figuring out how
to be us, us with her.

I’m feeling more settled than ever in Chicago but I still
yearn to return to California, to the sun and the mountains and the ocean.

Oh, mom. 13 years. It feels like so long. I’ve missed you
more this past year than I have in a long time. I wish so much that you could
meet my daughter, that you could be here for me as I become a mother. I have so
many questions for you, wish so much that you were in my life. I want to be
able to say to Veronica that her grandmother is coming to visit, and not have it automatically mean Greg’s mom.

I’ve missed you so, so much as I’ve become a wife and a
mother. It’s been challenging to integrate into a new family, to not have
you and Dad behind me as I do so. I feel lonely and insecure a lot of the time
and I wish you were here to help guide me.

I wish you hadn’t died mom. I don’t know who I would be at
this point if you hadn’t, but I wish you hadn’t all the same. I want my mom. I
don’t want to be a motherless daughter anymore.

All this time that you’ve been gone I’ve felt like if I
waited long enough or worked hard enough or wanted it badly enough, you’d come
back. But then another year goes by and I’m still here, still without you.

Those early years without you were the worst. It felt as though someone had
ripped off an appendage, as though I’d been rendered limbless. And now that I have my own daughter I get
that. The bond between me and her will never go away. We are part of
one another.

As I write this I know the same is true of you, that no
matter where you are, we are still connected.

I love you so much.

Your only daughter,

Claire

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