It’s been two years since the last time I held your hand. I miss you. The mom-shaped hole in my chest is still there. I wake up each morning and grab handfuls of optimism, love for my family, & the ever-faithful English stiff-upper-lip and stuff them into it, just to make it through the day. I feel like the Straw Man from “The Wizard of Oz” after the flying monkeys ripped him in two. “Hey, there’s a bit of me over there. Anyone mind handing it to me?”
The shock has (mostly) worn off, but now it’s even longer since we were together. I know that eventually the shock and longing wear thin and that time and acceptance will dull the raw edges of the hole you left. I have to say though that I’m not looking forward to that either. My dad-shaped hole is no longer raw, but the mere fact that I’ve accepted it and moved on is perhaps equally heartbreaking and painful.
I am so very thankful for you. For ALL of you. Your love, your loyalty, your passionate maternalism, your humour, your flaws (yes, you had one or two…), your passive-aggressive style of communication…. all of it. They say that parenting without a sense of humour is like being an accountant who sucks at math and I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for seeing the funny side of everything.
On that note, thank you (in no particular order) for…
- some of the best hugs on the planet
- loving me even when I was particularly unlovable
- uber-thin German pancakes with lemon & sugar (thankfully, Tim has the art still and is passing it to Max)
- treating me like an intelligent person rather than an age
- enduring my dad and teaching me about love, patience & marriage in the process
- making me appreciate the strength in being steadfast & true
- loving my husband like he was your own son
- loving my children unreservedly
- making even financial ruin okay
- your stories about England during the war & spending nights in the bomb shelter with your Gran
- stories about everyone you ever loved
- not playing favourites with me & my brothers (even though I secretly knew you loved me best… 😉 )
- not holding me back when I moved away to university
- calling me every weekend I was away even though it meant a long drive for you to a phone box that was local, not long distance
- the knitted and crocheted treasures – even the dishcloths (I am running out, btw. Poor planning on your part!)
- the beautiful dresses you made me when I was little…. I felt like a princess.
- the mounds of presents when money was flush
- the gifts from your own belongings when it was not
- letting me watch “Benny Hill” with you and Dad
- letting me go to Sadie Hawkins in grade 12 even though I knew you’d rather I didn’t (he was cute though, am I right?)
- teaching me ethics rather than morals (although you taught those too… If I had a dollar for every time I heard “Why would a man buy a cow when he can get the milk for free?” I’d be rich. Um, am I a cow in this story? And who’d want a man like that? The last birthday card I bought her was one that had two old ladies on the front, one saying just that and the other saying “What I always say is why buy a whole pig when all you want is a little sausage?” I wish I’d had that on hand growing up.)
- each and every beautifully addressed card… they sure taught beautiful penmanship back in the day
- teaching me to be strong and stand up & speak my mind
- filling my self-esteem cup to overflowing
- believing in me
- having me last
- walking me to the school bus stop as a kid. I was one of a tiny handful with a mom there.
- not walking me to middle school or high school. Seriously. I would have died.
- never making me eat things I didn’t like
- letting me put KISS posters all over my bedroom walls
- being chill the first time you let Glenn sleep over (“K, bye. Nice to see you, Glenn. We’re off to bingo!” awkward, but chill)
- hell… letting Glenn sleep over (Chloe, don’t get any ideas just yet.)
- saying that my homemade pizza was your favourite meal ever
- being such a lightweight when it came to alcohol.. one sniff of bubbly and you were a hoot (Are you sure you were even English??)
- taking just enough photos of me growing up that I have a record, but not so many that I knew you were enjoying my childhood rather than documenting it
- all the things you and Dad bought us when we had Chloe and became single-income
- all the times you came and helped when Chloe was so very little yet such a very big handful
- flying to Edmonton in the snow & ice to visit when I know you hate(d) the snow (you never could resist a new baby though and Nicholas was a beauty)
- all the yummy picnic lunches we had at rest areas on road trips
- managing to book that beautiful old hotel in downtown Vancouver when your dad and his wife came from England…. watching the hookers on the street far below our room while you were having a drink downstairs was WAY more entertainment than I even knew existed at the time.
- booking the same hotel again on a subsequent trip even though I told you about the hookers
- taking me to Vancouver… living only an hour away now without you and dad, I still have memories of you both so close at hand
- letting my step-niece (and best friend) visit each summer even though it meant hosting her brothers to keep it “fair”
- coming to live in Victoria while I was pregnant with Chloe
- not guilting me when we had to move away 5 years later
- caring for Dad when he was dying of lung cancer and too stubborn to be hospitalized
- calling me every day with updates and telling me to come when the end was near
- reminding him that I loved him so, so much and wished I didn’t have to leave after I was gone
- teaching me to give by the example you set
- every action, no matter how small, that led me to the life I have now.
And that’s enough for now. I can feel the stuffing coming out, so I better stop. I miss and love you more than ever. I know in my very soul that you are still there for me. I try very hard every day to be the shining image of a daughter that you saw. I guess the final “thank you” that pops into my head is also the beginning of an apology to you. Your last night in the hospital, I left late to go home and sleep for a bit and I kissed you and asked you to please be there in the morning. Thank you for being alive, if asleep still, in the morning. I hope you weren’t suffering. I know you waited because I asked because after I thanked you and told you that I would be okay even though I could feel the mom-shaped hole tearing me apart inside, you left me. I asked and you waited. Thank you. And I’m so sorry I was so selfish. I just needed one more night with my mom alive. And while I’m sorry I made you wait, I’d do it all again and perhaps never release you. I try hard to be good, but I am selfish and regret letting you go perhaps more than making you wait. Wherever you are in your journey, please know that I adore you with every bit of me. I had the word “faith” tattooed on my arm in the belief that I will see you (and dad) again one day. I know you won’t let me down. I have faith.
Oceans of love, Sarah. xoxo