Sept. 5: The first anniversary of my mom’s untimely demise passed with little fanfare. I thought about calling my siblings, my dad, my mom’s siblings…but what to say? “Hey, one year ago, these days were the worst of my life. And it really feels cruddy to think about. You?” So I just enjoyed my vacation in DC and thought about things occasionally and knew that many others were also thinking of things. If I’d had my computer on me, I probably would have posted something, but I didn’t have my computer, so no post commemorating the anniversary was made.
However, around the time of Aug. 31, as I was thinking back on those rather horrible days last August, Andrew and I had some really sweet conversations about my mom.
While we were staying at Heather and Michael’s house, Andrew found a Babler family photo and happily named off everyone. When he got done, he said, “When is Grandma not died?” Later he told me he missed her. I told him that we could call Grandpa and tell him that we are missing Grandma because he is missing Grandma too. But Andrew misunderstood me and thought I said we could call Grandma. “Let’s call Grandma now!” he said. I broke the news that we couldn’t call Grandma even though I really often wanted to. But I told him that we could pretend to call Grandma. “OK,” he said. But as usual, he didn’t want to talk. So I made a phone call to Mom. It was a little cathartic, and this is about what I said:
“Hi Mom. I miss you so very much. It’s just an ache in my heart. I wish we could all see you again. Because you are a part of us all and it just doesn’t feel right to not have your presence here among us. I’m really not used to the fact that you’re not here. And I don’t want to get used to it.
That said, we’re doing alright, Mom. It’s been a year, and I’m proud and relieved and hopeful about how we’re all coping.
Dad has a big, empty house now. He had so much to deal with, to work through this past year, but his spirit seems to have good boyency. He’s super busy with his political work, and we see him pretty regularly. What a lot poor Dad has had to contend with this past year. But I’d say he’s doing alright. He sure does miss you, though.
Michael and Lisa are engaged, and they seem to be doing well together. Michael is such a deep and solid and loving person. He’s really been a great older brother for Joe, and just having him around makes me feel more like thinks are OK. You know that he and Maretta both seem to feel things deeply, and this has all been really hard on him. But you’d be so proud of how he carries himself, of his continued generous spirit. The world is a much better place for having Michael in the world.
Maretta’s a married woman now. It was tough planning her wedding without you, but the day of the wedding, we all felt so much joy. It was wonderful. Beautiful. Maretta was (of course!) radiant, and she and Kyle seem so happy together. She’s doing a lot of baking these days. I know she’d really like to be calling you to get advice and to check in. You know/knew us so well…it’s hard not to have you around to offer sage advice and to help remind us who we are.
Sometimes when I go shopping, I find myself suddenly really sad. While wondering the aisles of Target, I’ll get a tightness in my chest, and it suddenly feels like all the air has been sucked out of the building. Like there isn’t a way that I could possibly get enough air to fill my collapsed lungs. Lights become too bright, the room starts to spin. All because I was trying to figure out what kind of foundation to buy and I realized that you couldn’t help me…wouldn’t ever be able to help me…and you’ve always helped me pick out my makeup. Sometimes it seems like the big stuff I can handle but the little details are what bring me panting to my knees.
Joe’s off at school now for his junior year. He’s such a neat person. When he was home this summer, I kind of felt like I couldn’t see him enough. It seemed like every time we got together some sad part of me is healed or deeply comforted. I love Joe so much, and I’ve so wished that I could make you not being here somewhat more OK for him. But you know, really, I can’t. He’s just got to find his own way to process and deal and find peace…just like all of us. Joe is one amazing person. He’s reaching out for life and for experiences, and I’m excited about all that he could experience. Becky went off to Williams this fall. She really wishes that she’d had more time to spend with you. It’s an exciting time for those kids. I feel lucky to know them both.
Terry is traveling out west this month. He’s seeking out trains and beautiful scenery. Excel Inns is now sold, and T has some big thinking and decompressing and train spotting to do. He really misses your councel and your friendship. Things just aren’t the same without you.
Mom, when I think back on why I’m sad that you’re not here, the one thing that always knots up my throat and makes tears spring to my eyes is the fact that you’re not here to know and love Andrew and Sylvia. Last year, I was mostly really stoic until someone asked me how Michael, Maretta, and Joe were doing/would do. Then I immediately started crying. Over the last year, I’ve watched us all deal, and that pain doesn’t feel as raw. We’re OK. But it’s just so unfair that you didn’t get to know your grandkids more. It’s terribly, terribly unfair for you, and it’s also a real loss for them.
I can’t believe you haven’t met Sylvia. She’s so wonderful, Mom. She’s got so much sparkle, dimples, a smile that just leaps forth from her beautiful face. She radiates happiness. Except when she doesn’t. That girl has opinions and knows her mind. She’s not easily re-directed:) She loves people and is so very interested and engaged in the world around her. Andrew can almost always get a delighted ripple of laughter, and she looks at him with such adoration. Dressing that little girl is a tremendous joy. She has clothes that you would love. Details that you would admire…just so much fun stuff.
Sometimes when someone new meets her, I imagine it’s you meeting her. You would oooo and ahhh over her toes (just like Andrew’s), her elbows, her belly button, her long fingers, her sweet lips, the little strawberry on her head. You’d smile to see that she has long arms like your boys and that her eyes are blue like mine. This girl is a special one, Mom. She would have loved to know you.
Andrew is turning into such an amazing boy. The things he says! The tenderness of his heart. The ernestness of his thoughts and actions. He’s playing with other kids now, and having a great time. He’s able to convey more complex thoughts and to carry on a conversation. He still loves to be read to, he loves doing puzzles and playing memory, and he’s still crazy about animals of all types. You’d know him well. Andrew’s a year older, but to my eyes, he’s still very centered in who he has been. And he remembers you, Mom. He misses you and wishes you could come back home. I’m so glad you have a grandchild who knew you. I means a lot to me.
Well, I’m going to have to go. Bryan’s been giving Andrew his bath, and it’s about my turn to do stories and bedtime. It’s been nice talking to you. I wish the conversation could be two-way:)
With all my heart,