Today marks 15 years since you’ve been gone. I’m devastated by that number. I can hardly bear to think about how many millions of times my cells have recycled since I last saw you. Can hardly bear to conceive of all the ways I’ve changed and grown since you knew me, your daughter.
When you last saw me I was only 18 years old, and I was a mess. Barely into my freshman year of college in Vermont with a shaved head and a nose ring, a false sense of bravado and a whole lot of confusion about who I thought I was.
All these years and years later I’m sitting at the dining room table of my little house in Santa Monica. I am 33 years old. I am a wife and a mother. I am pregnant with my second child. I am on the cusp of being a published author.
And I am crying because I can’t believe I have made it all these years without you.
My own daughter is two and a half now, and I can’t fathom what it would be like for her to lose me. I am the center of her universe. Every game she plays, every story she imagines, every situation she considers, revolves around a child and its mother. A stark and constant reminder of why it has been so hard to have you absent in my life all these years.
Mom, I don’t know where you are. I’ve been searching for you more than ever before though. Can you see me? Will we meet again? These are questions I toy with over and over, in the early morning hours as I lay awake, unable to fall asleep after Vera has been up. I know that I believe in our irrepressible connection more than ever before. I know that nothing could ever truly separate me from my daughter. Not years. Not physical distance. Not silence or confusion or pain or anything, anything this earth might put in our way.
I know that you know me, 15 years later, jobs and moves and boyfriends and marriages and births and books later, you still know me. Just as I will always know her. She is of me, as I am of you. Nothing, no matter how bleak, will ever change that.
This I know.
But knowing that doesn’t stop the pain. It doesn’t stop me from digging little half moons into my palms with my fingernails right now. Doesn’t stop the tears from spilling over. Doesn’t stop the slight pause behind everything I do.
Know too that I wouldn’t have it any other way, and that I know you wouldn’t either.
I miss you so much, mom. I wish you were here. I wish you were here for me to crawl into and that you could take care of me again like I was a little girl. So much time has passed without you and I’ve worked so, so hard to keep it together. To become a woman and do things with my life. But sometimes none of it seems to mean anything because you aren’t here to see it.
I feel sadder than usual today, mom. Sometimes these anniversaries aren’t so hard. Other times they’re like this. They’re a day when all I want is you. Just you. To come back to me.
I get so tired of trying so hard. Tired of being this girl without a mother. And some part of me never stops believing that it won’t always be this way.
Your only daughter,