I’ve missed you a lot over these past two years. Well, at first I was pretty pissed, but that comes as no surprise, does it?
I guess you know by now that grandma died the day before you did. She was 93. I probably don’t need to remind you that you were only 68. Have you figured out–while sitting on your heavenly porch, getting a hug from Jesus*–what the problem is there?
If you do the math, that’s 25 years! 25 freaking years I’m going to miss having you around as my mom. 25 lost years that didn’t need to be lost.
See, I think you should have lived to 93. If only you could have gotten routine colon cancer screenings like the American Cancer Society and the CDC recommends. Your surgeon says that your cancer had probably been growing for more than 8 years before it got so bad you finally went to the Emergency Room. But you didn’t get a colonoscopy because we don’t have Universal Healthcare in this country. You were self-employed and couldn’t afford private health insurance, so you just went without as though healthcare is optional.
And why wouldn’t you think healthcare is optional? You lived in a country that treats healthcare like it is an option, instead of a necessity. If you’d been a citizen of any other first world country on this planet you would very likely be alive today. But you died at 68, the average lifespan of a citizen of the Dominican Republic.
While some people might object to my turning this letter to you into a political commentary about universal healthcare right before the election, those people would be the ones who don’t remember you taking me to hand out Hubert Humphrey election pamphlets at the grocery store while dad was in Viet Nam when I was seven. But I remember it. And I remember how much you hated Richard Nixon and said that if he was elected it would be a disaster for this country.
I know what you’d say about Mitt Romney if you were here today. And I’m pretty sure you’ll be right about him, too, if he’s elected. Which is why I hope to hell he isn’t.
I miss our drives to town so you could go to Walmart. I hate Walmart, but I always enjoyed these trips and our lunches together. Just last month, I was finally able to go in and eat at Jean’s Sandwich Shop. I missed you so much I almost started to cry while standing in the line. I didn’t get my usual Santa Fe wrap because I just couldn’t bear to eat it without you. I got the BLT instead. It was delicious. The soup, as always, was excellent, too.
I miss being able to call you up at a moment’s notice for a day trip to The City. Dammit you made you laugh so hard. When you died you took with you my best material. I wish you’d had a blog that I could read now that you’re gone, except it would have probably been more popular than mine.
Since you’ve been gone I’ve written a few times about you. I shared some of the extremely important wisdom you shared with me that has helped me through life: Don’t Be a Picky Eater and Can a Hickey Kill You?
I talked about our enmeshment in My Mother, Myself, and tried to tell The Whole Story, including the part where I was conceived on that bunkbed in a housing project in Louisville. Most people agree that a kid shouldn’t know that sort of thing, Mom. Oh well.
I haven’t written yet about how I taught you to drive when I was five years old, or the time I took those naked pictures of you to send to daddy while he was in Viet Nam (Yes. I was only seven.). I’m pretty sure my brothers threw those pictures out, which pisses me off. I did pretty good work for a seven year old, if I say so myself.
2012 has been a really, really hard year, Mom, and I’ve really missed you. I had major surgery, Jeff and I almost tanked our marriage (Yeah, I know!? It shocked us too. But we saved it and celebrated a terrific 25th Anniversary together), and I found out that Rachel and The Hunter probably won’t be able to have biological children. I know how you were hanging on there at the end hoping to at least know before you died that your first grandchild was on the way.
These were all things I wish you’d been here to help me get through, but you weren’t.
I’d like to say that I felt you close by, but I didn’t. All I feel is your absence. And it makes me very sad. I hope you forgive me for being so angry at you those last three years. I hope you forgive me for not being able to move past it before you died. I really tried. But my anger was my shield against the pain and the hurt. I’m sure you know what that’s about.
I want you to know that I take seriously the lessons in life you taught me, both the intentional and unintentional ones. I see how your financial stress killed you, and I want you to know that Jeff and I are making different decisions.
Anyway, I love you. And I wish you were here.
*P.S. I hope that porch on the lake in heaven that you always talked about is as terrific as you hoped it would be. And please say “Hi” to Jesus for me when he come by for his hug, will you?