It's that day again. January 31, the day you died. I'm so torn about this day because it's not how I remember you, but I feel compelled to honor you on this day, so I walk the fine line of what is not and what should be.
Today, instead of remembering that last day, I'm going to remember many other days and moments that I carry with me, most without any date on a calendar associated with them. I'm going to remember...
..the day I left Alabama to move to New York and I found the small box you put on the truck when I wasn't looking - the little reminders of home and the note you wrote to go with them.
...sitting with you and putting together puzzles.
...the way you'd hug me and always say "You're so little, I don't want to break you!"
...your theory that people need eight hugs a day just to survive. I repeat that often, you know. As far as theories go, I don't think it's that solid, but you made it true for me.
...the sacrifices too numerous to count that you made so that I could have a better life.
...how you loved ironing. Crazy but true.
...the silly way you'd break into song over just about anything.
...your fondness for singing the song "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" by Great White, which always seemed to me to be the sweetest and funniest incongruity.
..."That cow must have had an easy life."*
...the "good light."
...watching Braves games with you. (Especially game 7 of the 1992 NLCS when your nerves were so frayed that you went back to the bedroom to watch in bed with the covers pulled all the way up to your eyes.)
...cold cross-stitch mornings when Aunt Pat would pick us up for school and then you, she and Aunt Linda would all clean up the breakfast dishes and sit at the table and cross-stitch all day until it was time for one of you to collect us at the end of the school day.
...The "good morning to you" song. (I sang it to Alex and now he sings it to me. Yet another remind of how alive you still are in so many ways.)
...that you were there with me when Alex came into this world.
...singing along with the radio when you'd drive.
...monthly trips to the commissary at Redstone Arsenal.
...you teaching me to drive a stick shift in the Northwest Community College parking lot in the blue Escort.
...the way you could talk to anyone. I remember one day the phone rang and you answered it and talked and talked. I couldn't figure out who it could be on the other end, so I asked when the call finally ended. "Oh, it was just the Sears repair person."
...how everyone at Miami Ice adored you, as they rightly should have. You always knew how to make people feel special.
What I love most is that this list is so effortless and I could go on for hours. You put your whole self into being a good person and a good mother and it showed in everything you said and did. It is a big reason I am the person I am today. You taught me how to love and how to be a mother and I work all the time to live up to the example you set. Alex was so little when you died, but he knows you in many ways because you are so fully in me. When I hug his little body tight, I feel the power of that bond that I'll always have with you--all that you gave me that makes me able to not just share myself with him, but share you, too.
There is so much happening right now that I wish I could share with you, but I know what you'd say if you were here. "You are so strong; you can do this." If it weren't for the example of what love really is that you set for me, I wouldn't be so strong. I wouldn't have been able to put myself on this path of divorce. Without you, I might have thought that what I had was enough. But everything about you--the way you loved me (and Scott and Jillian), the way you and Daddy loved each other, the way you loved the people who were important to you--all of that is what gives me the courage to imagine my life differently, and to know I deserve it.
All my love, forever...
*It would take far too long to explain these, so just trust me that they're funny and have meaning. A few will get it. Everyone else--just laugh along, okay?