Here it goes. This is going to, without a doubt, be one of the hardest letters I’ve ever written. Not because the subject is hard, but because I know what you’d tell me. I know that you’d move your arthritic hands that way that you always did, in the way that’s so present in my memory. You’d brush away the problem as if it actually existed right there in front of you. You’d tell me that I shouldn’t ever be sad over you. I know that. I know you’d want me to go meet a few new people, turn them into friends, and maybe share a whiskey water with them and just let it go.
But you’re not here to tell me that. You’re not here and that is precisely why this is hard, because Meme there are so many things I want to tell you. So many moments I’ve thought of and wondered what you’d tell me, what you’d say. In my heart I know though, I know that most of these things I’ve done in life are because of you. I know that the heart I have came from you in one way or another. Whether that was how you raised your daughter who became the best mother a girl could ever ask for, or whether that was from your little moments of sharing a piece of knowledge that I didn’t know I’d actually remember as an adult.
Maybe it was the moments playing rummy, or the moments you puffed on another cigarette which would end up killing you that taught me the most. Maybe it was the moments walking next to you and being completely terrified that you’d say something to another stranger. But then, of course you would and the “too cool for school” teenager I was would tuck myself back in my shell. A shell that in just 10 years would disappear altogether. Had I known in those moments then that in just short 10 years that I would be the woman I know you’ve always wanted me to be, but had I known you wouldn’t be hear to witness it, maybe I would have tried a little harder to be more patient with my grandmother.
I was never easy, but you knew that, because you weren’t either. Neither is my mom or her sisters. My cousins aren’t either. We come from a long line of stubborn women who are hardheaded and love in a way that is so beautiful, but often times, too hidden from the public.
So Meme I’m here to tell you a few of the things that you haven’t been here to see. A few things I know you’d be so proud to hear. Because I know in so many ways, in so many nights staring at the stars, that you’re staring right back down at me. It’s the reason I still wish on them, and the reason that I feel so at home under them in the middle of nowhere.
I know this one is going to come as a shock to you, but I’m still single. I know, I know, shocker, right?! You and I both know that first loves just never really leave us though, huh? So instead I fell in love with everyone the way you did. I’ve found my home inside of strangers who can quickly become friends with just one awkward hello. You’d be proud of how outgoing I am now. I don’t hesitate to tell the stranger in line that I like his pants, or to mention to my barista at the coffee shop that she has a wonderful smile. You taught me that, Meme. You taught me to love people in the ways that they can’t love themselves.
After you left this earth the family was never really the same, no matter how much some of them don’t want to admit it or talk about it. But I do my best to see them and talk to them in the ways that I knew you always wanted. I decided that talking about my feelings and being blunt was better than keeping it all bottled up. You taught me that brashness. Sometimes it throws people off, but more often then not it lets me become closer to people, even when those people share the same blood.
I started a company. I know you’d be so proud of what I’ve built. I took all those things you taught me about people and decided that in a dark world, I’d be a shiny sparkle, just like all the clothes you wore and always bragged about getting for half price. Though I’ll never be caught in those shiny jumpsuits you love so much, I do my best to wear my personality on my sleeve. You taught me that it’s ok, and even encouraged, to be our weird, quirky, loud, and sometimes broken selves.
Lastly Meme, I want you to know that I’m so grateful for you. I never really got to tell you that while you were still here. For all those ways you taught me without knowing you were teaching me. For the moments you made me mad enough to scream, and others when you let me sink into a hug and eat a few oatmeal cookies to heal the hurts. I’m so grateful for the ways you brought people together and made people laugh when they didn’t realize they could. I’m so grateful for the woman you were, even though I never appreciated it enough when it was right in front of me. I’m so very grateful for you, no matter how many worlds away you are now.
I know that every time I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up that the direction I’m heading is the right one, because you’re riding shotgun with me on this wild ride.
I love you to the ends of the universe and back. To the moon, stars, and back again.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
I love you Meme, you have left a legacy behind that will never be forgotten, there won’t be a day you aren’t missed or a day we go without feeling your presence in this amazing family you’ve blessed us with.