It’s been nearly twenty two years since I last saw your face, heard your voice, felt your arms around me in a warm embrace. So much has happened since then, but we don’t need to go through all that again.
Today I want to show you how you’re still here.
I have this laugh that people tell me is contagious. I’m sure they’re right, because I got it from you. Not just your laugh, but your sense of humor. Sure, the dryness comes from dad, but that silly, fun, spontaneous combustive laugh—that’s all you. I love that every time someone mentions my laugh I get to think about you and thank you. What an awesome gift.
My smile that shows off the two front teeth I never thought would grow in straight; yeah, that’s from you, too. I look at pictures, and my favorites are the candid ones where you have no idea someone just snapped an amazing shot of you in pure joy, your smile taking over the room.
I rescued a cat that jumped into my car one night after a softball game. She came with five kittens, as it turned out, and I kept two of them. Sly and Killer. I have a rescued dog that we expected to be a 35-lb Lab/Beagle mix, but he’s actually a 75-lb Boxer/Doberman mix. Growing up you always had a rescued animal, whether it was a cat that just knew you’d feed it on the porch or a dog you found rolling around in the gutter outside your apartment. I’m so grateful for your unconditional love of animals, and that I learned how to be a great pet parent from you (now that I’m actually ready to be a pet parent).
The last time the Dodgers won the World Series, I got to watch it with you. Vin Scully calling Kirk Gibson’s impossible homerun, you screaming your head off, running in circles like a crazy person around the living room. It doesn’t have to be a game-winning homerun, but when Vin calls a great play I’m so grateful to have been raised in a Dodger baseball house, listening to one of the greatest sports announcers of all time. You did that.
Not only do I get to sound like you, but I get have people tell me I look like you. The two things that stand out are our hands and lips. Spitting images, the eight of us.
There are so many things in my life that not only remind me of you, but make me feel like you’re still here with me by way of your gifts that keep on giving. My smile and laugh (even my cough). My love of animals of all kinds. My love of sports and baseball and the Dodgers. My hands and lips.
Some people dread turning 38 and realizing that they’re more like their mother than they ever thought possible. I don’t dread it, but I do see that it’s happened and a continuing reality.
I only wish I’d gotten to know you better.
When I last saw you I was sixteen. I was just getting to know you, and you were just opening your eyes to me as an up-and-coming adult. Our mother-daughter relationship had a bright future, and I was beginning to look forward to it.
And then you were gone.
I never got to ask you what your favorite cheese was, although I suspect it was roquefort. One of my favorites, by the way.
I never got to hear stories from you about how you once rescued a dog and kept him in your locker at school for a day while you tried to find him a home because grandma and grandpa wouldn’t let you bring home another dog. That came from a stranger just months ago.
I never got to talk to you about why you didn’t go to college and what your first job was like.
We never got to talk about how the Iraq war impacted you after you found out your friend had gotten killed on Valentine’s Day, his birthday.
I never got to learn about what made you tick, what you thought about the world or relationships or politics or travel or equal rights or the Dodgers spending $200+ million dollars on payroll and not being a .500 team, midway through May.
In the past I’ve always thought about all the things I never got to do with you or share with you from my life. But what I really think about these days is what you didn’t get to share with me from your life.
There’s so much of your life I missed out on, simply because I was only sixteen. I didn’t have the sense to ask you more about you. So maybe in 40 or 50 years you can set aside some time so we can talk about all that. I really want to learn about you.
All my love,