One year ago this week I was helping my kids enjoy Halloween with parades, candy, costumes, and trick-or-treating.
One year ago this week I was holding my breath, waiting for my mom to die.
In some ways I feel like I am still holding my breath, that I haven't truly been able to breathe these past 12 months. There is a tension in her absence. Something is missing, and we are still desperately trying to keep our lives balanced. To keep everything from toppling over and crashing into a thousand pieces on the floor.
I miss her every day.
It's the little things that make me think of her most of the time. The other day it was when I reached into the spice cabinet and pulled out this:
Mom took the name "Season All" quite literally. She used it to season everything. It was her go-to spice. I pulled it out to use in a recipe, and I actually broke down crying as I prepared dinner.
It's stupid. But it's awesome.
I love that my memory of her is so intense that it can hit me like that out of the blue.
And then I get all weepy knowing that my boys will never know her in that way. I can tell them stories. We can look at pictures. And we do. We do. But the wispy, fluid memories of young children don't hold the same power. Their "memories" of past events change with every retelling, becoming less and less like the true event each time.
And I fear.
I fear that their memories of my mother will grow hazy and fade. I am not ready for them to lose her. I am not ready to lose her again in their losing of her.
I am not ready for her place in their lives and in their memories to be occupied by another woman. I am not ready for there to be another name associated with "Grandad" other than "Yaya." I am not ready for her face and her figure standing next to my dad to be intertwined with someone else's.
I am not ready to give up her presence that exists somehow still in her absence. That empty chair at the table. The stocking not hung by the chimney with care. The vacancy in our lives that is a constant reminder of my mom. My mom who was there and now is not.
I am not ready for that emptiness to be filled by anyone else.
Maybe I'm selfish. Maybe I'm childish. But I am not ready.