Just so you know, this isn’t a funny or upbeat post, and it’s long, so you don’t have to read it. But I kind of need to write it.
Today is the sixth anniversary of my mom’s death. It still stinks. Lately I’ve been wishing Heaven had a mail service, and thinking about what I’d like to say to her if I could write her a letter. This is what I’ve got:
Dear Mom –
Hey! How’s Heaven? (I’m assuming that all your irreverent nun jokes were forgiven when they were deciding where to put you.)
We miss you down here. You wouldn’t believe the changes. For one, Dad lives in my basement. Remember how you dramatically warned he was taking you to Florida to die, and then you did really die? I bet you were so proud of yourself for finally making good on one of your threats. Smug as you may have felt, though, he got the last laugh. The basement is actually pretty nice (keep your snarky comments to yourself; I hired a decorator) and I take good care of him (and totally overlook the “Am I being fed tonight?” texts I get if his dinner is late). He does say “thank you” a lot but he still doesn’t like kids (how did he have five?) and he changes the TV channel really fast when I walk downstairs, so that kind of scares me because I just can’t imagine what he’s watching. But otherwise he’s deaf, happy and spoiled, just like he was before you died. (I first mistyped that “soiled” and I laughed out loud thinking of how that would have cracked you up. Don’t worry; he’s not incontinent. Yet.)
The kids, Mom. They’re something else. Remember how when Caroline was born you said, “Wow, Jul, she’s going to be just like you” and I took it as a compliment? Well, now I know what you meant, and I’m sorry for every smartass answer or temper tantrum or prima donna moment you suffered through with me. But I know I made you proud, and she makes me proud, so I guess if you were here you’d tell me I’ll forget about all the drama at some point. She’s still the kid who throws her arms around my neck and tells me I’m beautiful and totally gets my jokes, so it’s not all bad.
And Jack – he was just a little guy when you died, but remember how you called him, “Happy Jack?” He still has that twinkle in his eye and that captivating smile. Remember how you told Caroline that after you died, every time she saw a rainbow or a butterfly, it was you sending kisses from Heaven? Well, she’s told Jack, and the other day he was trying to catch a butterfly. I said, “Jack, what will you do if you catch it?” And he looked at me like I was an idiot and said, “Kiss it. I’ve gotta kiss Grammy back.” He’s wickedly funny and really sweet and he and Caroline love each other in a way that you wouldn't believe, especially after you lived with the five of us hellions.
I’d tell you all the juicy details about my four siblings but a) you probably already know them if you’re worth your celestial salt and b) they’d kill me, which would have me meeting you just a little too far ahead of schedule (clearly I’m implying that my general irreverence about everything will also be overlooked at the pearly gates. Fingers crossed.) But you see why I can’t. There’s nothing huge – a marriage or divorce here or there, but no one has come out of the closet or anything. In fact, the good news is that everyone has kids, and the better news is that they’re all really cute kids. They see each other all the time. I still have big family dinners with too much wine, and the craziest of your three sons still dresses up like a girl if he thinks he can get a laugh or he’s really drunk. The last family dinner was so wild that I learned how to shoot a 9 mm gun the next day, so I think I’ll keep everything under control from here on out.
I kind of keep waiting for you to haunt someone in a mean way, like you promised you would. Can I send you a list under separate cover?
I miss you, Mom. (I never get to say that word much any more.) You always made me laugh. You died too young and it just gives us way too many years to miss you. I know you weren’t ready to die. We weren’t ready for you to die. It really, really sucks that you did.
I guess there’s only one other thing I think you need to know: before you died, you worried to me that you would be forgotten. I think you actually thought it could happen.
Well, not for a minute, Mom. Not for one minute.
Love you. Always will.