What I Miss

This popped up in memories, written the year after my mom died. I still miss all of these things but the missing is no longer raw; it’s tempered by overwhelming gratitude for having so much to miss.

What I miss: I miss the sound of your voice, the coolness of your hands, the way you would put your arm around me sometimes when we walked. I miss the cards that came on every holiday, I miss the sappy messages about how proud you were of the woman I had become.

I miss your chicken salad, your spaghetti, grilled cheese sandwiches, your macaroni and cheese, your chicken and dumplings, your deviled eggs. I miss how clean your house always was and the 500 types of snack foods in your cupboards.

I miss the smell of your perfume. I miss the way you dried your hair in front of an open oven. I miss the way you curled your legs up and put your feet under you when you sat on the couch and ate mothers cookie parade in the evenings. I miss your bookcases, overfull of books you had read two and three times over, and the enormous stack of library books that was always by your bed.

I miss your handwriting, the way you made the S in Sharon, the close and careful loops of your letters. I miss the pads full of notes and lists, the way you wrote phone numbers on file folders, your address book over-full of a lifetime of friends and family.

I miss your keds and stretchy pants and fuzzy socks. I miss your beautiful roses.

I miss marathon phone calls where we might cover the history of Afghanistan as well as the history of Brad and Angelina in the same conversation. I miss the way you touched up your lipstick before going in the grocery store. I miss your giant key chains with strange stuffed animal type things attached so you wouldn’t lose your keys (as often). I miss they way you couldn’t find your eyeglasses when they were on top of your head. I miss watching odd television and movies with you late at night after everyone had gone to bed. I miss the way you loved finding continuity errors in movies – “why are there leaves on the trees? it’s winter!” “Why is there baseboard heating – this is the french revolution!”

I miss how I could talk to you and know everything that was happening with everyone in the family. I miss the way we all pivoted around you – connected through you. I miss how much you loved my children, how animal like it felt when we were all together – more pack than family, connected by something stronger than biology and instinct.

I miss how guilty and frazzled May always made me feel – first Mother’s Day, then your birthday, and how I never felt like I could do both well in so short a time. I miss the way you always said to skip your birthday because Mother’s Day was more important to you.

I miss getting mad at you for trying to fix things rather than just listen. I especially miss this when I do it to other people. I miss your unfailing belief that a new outfit or book made almost anything at least a little bit better.

I miss how it took a thousand hours for you to get out of the house already due to the seemingly endless array of things you did to get ready in the morning. Dry your hair, stop and pay some bills, put on some nail polish, eat a danish while it dried, curl your hair, go make up a bed, put on makeup, go put some dishes in the dishwasher, finish putting on makeup, feed the cats, get dressed, put the clothes in the dryer, ok finally, can we go now?! I miss what a terrible driver you were, how you drove so cautiously to mitigate the fact that you were practically blind. I miss the way you packed for five days as though it might be five months. I will never forget the trip where you couldn’t fit everything in and we each wore several outfits on the plane to smuggle in a few more clothes.

I miss laughing with you. I never knew anybody who could laugh at themselves so easily – and how the funniest, best stories always involved some kind of horribly embarrassing event that other people would have kept locked away forever but you shared freely.

I miss the way you never, EVER ate a dinner while it was hot because you spent all dinner talking, a bite of food perpetually looming near your mouth, but infrequently making it in. I miss the times we sat around the table for another hour or more just talking and laughing and telling stories.

I miss your inexhaustible supply of energy and willingness to try to do almost anything by yourself. They way you were just as likely to say, “I bought a chain saw today” as “I painted my ceiling today” when I called you in the evening. I miss your irrational fear of bees and your disdain for snails and squirrels. I miss the way you secretly weeded my yard every time you came to visit. I always noticed. Thank you.

I miss the pictures you displayed in every home, hundreds and hundreds of pictures in frames, collages, refrigerator magnets of family and friends over years and years of our lives. I miss how sometimes I felt overwhelmed by their sheer number, the weight of the love you carried inside and displayed outside.

Mostly, I miss how I took you for granted, letting days go by without calling you because I knew you would be there when I needed you. Now I can’t seem to go a day without feeling the sharp jab of your absence. I know I should feel lucky to have this much to miss, but it’s going to take me a while to get there. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

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