To the loving mom of my first love,
This is so very hard to write, but as I was writing my letter of heart-felt loss to your son, I realized it is really you I need to reach. I am glad he was able to tell me about your health before now, so that I was able to reach out to you once more. I regret deeply that I haven’t reached out more often since then. And now, this is my only chance. And still, too late. I want to thank you for everything. Everything you have been since I met you more than a half a life time ago. Yes, do you remember? I was barely 20 years old. I did not have a driver’s license, so I think I came up there by bus. I remember so much. Some of the finer points are a bit fuzzy, but I remember the important things and many of the little details.
I want to thank you, but when I want to let you know I haven’t forgotten all the little things, it doesn’t seem so eloquent in a long drawn out paragraph. Perhaps a list will get the point across in some way. I know you were somewhat private about your health toward the end, so I am making this thank you note anonymous. Perhaps that doesn’t much matter now, but it is a mitzvah in your rememberence . I want to learn how it feels to grieve someone so wonderful who is not related to me by blood/legal family. I want to learn how it feels to lose that deeply. I wish it was written to someone else. I wish the lessons of grief and loss weren’t because you had to leave all of us way too soon.. I have always known I had to learn things the hard way. I can’t just read a big old book on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross on death and the five stages of grief and just “get it”.
Someone like you had to come along and show me unconditional love with an open heart and open door to your home to show me it wouldn’t be easy. When I first met you, in my early 20’s, I was just beginning my life. I was learning about everything in books. I met your son at some crazy party and he brought me up north to meet you and your husband and other son. You made me great food and always had soda and fun snacks (these were fun facts for a young woman who did not have soda and chips at any time for the taking!). I ate with paper napkins. I saw a cross hung in your kitchen. Until then, I had never seen an actual cross in any home. You opened my eyes that people live different lives than the ones in my little Beltway Bubble. I am eternally grateful for those little things, the paper napkins, the cross on the wall, the marriage and intact family you offered. So, without going further, there’s just too many things for a run-on sentence or long-lost paragraph, so here’s your list:
Thank you for:
- showing me different religions and paths simply by showing me your cross in the kitchen.
- letting me eat with paper napkins
- inviting me each and every time into your home
- showing me a loving intact family (being from a child of divorce)
- making me chicken pot pie that was more like a soup
- always having food and soda and fun snacks
- always making sure I was taken care of at your home
- when I arrived all shaky after driving into the median on a highway and calling with a quarter from a payphone, you made sure I got to your place safely
- showing me that no matter what, you can always love people who aren’t in your immediate family.
- showing me that when people make other choices with their, there’s no need to judge.
- having your first son so that I could know what that innocent first love is all about and of course, thank you for raising your sons so well so that I could even have this letter to write.
- supporting us in our choices to consider other places to live and letting me take him across the country to start the next chapter of my life with him.
- letting me be a part of your life tangentially (Facebook, holiday cards) even after my life with your son was over.
- being unforgettable.
- teaching me a lesson in grief of parent loss before I have to experience this with my own parents. It sounds so selfish, but I am telling you really how selfless you are and you didn’t even know it!
I am sure I am missing so much over the past 27 years that I have known you. I know paper napkins and crosses seem trivial to you, but they are not. They show me how people live amazing, but different lives than the one I lived up to that point. It taught me tolerance at a young age, when I did not have much experience in much at all for that matter. In a time of feeling immortal when I was young, I am all grown up now and very much in touch with our mortality. Thank you for showing me what counts.
You are so special. I am listening to Adele’s ’21’ as I wrote this. I am not sure if you ever listened to her, but it’s what I chose.