Today marks nine years since my mother passed away.
As Mom passed away on her birthday, today she would’ve turned sixty-five years old. Today I would’ve called her first thing in the morning to catch her before she left for work to wish her a super happy birthday. Today I would’ve finally gone to get a card to send in the mail because in my family it’s almost a tradition that birthday cards always arrive late. Today I would’ve recorded a video on my phone with my daughter, wishing Abuela Wanda a feliz cumpleaños, then sent it so she’d see it during her lunch break at school. Today I would’ve called her later in the day, after she finally made it home, and maybe even Skyped or used Facebook Messenger’s video chat so we could talk and have Ashlyn sing her happy birthday. Today we would’ve have laughed, making jokes about being sixty-five, over-the-hill, te’stas poniendo vieja con cara de coneja, and all the new aches this year would bring. Today she would’ve asked how my wife was doing, and tell me how she just couldn’t wait for the birth of her new granddaughter. Today we would’ve hung up after sending each other kisses, and telling each other I love you, hablamos mañana, we’ll talk tomorrow.
Today marks nine years since I last heard Mom say to me, Te amo.
Each year I think that I’m gonna keep it together, that I have this under control. I even thought that on the very first anniversary of her death. I never do. It’s the biggest lie I tell myself, and I believe it for a moment before I realize how full of shit I am. I don’t have it together. I don’t have it under control. I may not be crying as I write this, but I can feel the tears threatening to burst at any moment. The knot in the middle of my chest grows larger by the second, making it harder to take a deep breath. I may look relaxed sitting on my office chair, but my jaw is clenched, my brow furrowed, my lips drawn tight. I may be forty-three years old, but I am an inconsolable child who’s lost his Mommy.
I don’t have a clever concluding paragraph that turns my tale of loss into an insightful essay about the human condition. Nine years later, I’m waiting for that insight myself, and I’ve yet to find it. Mom’s death destroyed me, destroyed my world, destroyed my faith, destroyed my belief, destroyed my mind, destroyed my love, destroyed my life. I’ve learned to live in a post-mortem world, rebuilt my life, my mind, my faith, my belief, my love, rebuilt myself, but it’s a different world. And I love the world I live in now, a world where my wife Megan and I have an amazing daughter and are expecting a second child very soon, a world where I’m an RN and I get to help people heal on a daily basis, a world where I feel closer to God than I have ever felt in my life. It truly is a wonderful world this new one I live in now. But it is also the world after Mom.
Today marks nine years since Mom and I last spoke on the phone, just a few hours before she left this world. I told her that night that I loved her, and I have continued to tell her so almost daily ever since.
I love you, mami. Hablamos mañana.
Photo: Wanda mirando el mar desde El Morro by Daniel M Perez, 2007, all rights reserved.