I wrote about you on Saturday during the writing workshop I was leading. I write about you all the time actually. On Saturday I wrote about sitting on the edge of your hospital bed, reading poetry to you. You kissed a lipstick print onto my cheek and I wiped it away, a quick reflex, a careless gesture. I wish I hadn’t wiped it away. Had I known it would be the last time, I would have left the shape of your lips on my skin a little longer.
I’m sorry that my last words to you weren’t ‘I love you.’ I said it probably hundreds of times during your last days here and countless times during my life. It’s not that I question whether or not you knew I loved you, love you still. I know you knew, that you know right now. And I know that you loved me. I do. Telling each other so was the period at the end of each of our conversations. I’m sorry, then, that when I kissed your forehead and said goodnight that I didn’t say ‘I love you’ one more time. I thought I’d see you the next morning, but you slipped into Heaven while I dreamed in your house. I didn’t know. I just didn’t know.
On Saturday one of the workshop participants wrote about her grandmother dying of cancer. When snippets of her piece were read aloud, I froze thinking ‘Did I write that? I had to have written that. I don’t think I wrote that, but I must have written that, right? How could someone else have written about my life like that?’ I listened to the lines and I tried to keep my composure. Underneath the veneer of my face I could feel the blood seeping from my cheeks. I felt pale. And exposed.
Do you remember that castle we saw on our trip? Not Dracula’s castle. Not Kalemegdon. The other castle. The pretty one.
It was drizzly that day and I took this picture of a stone cherub.
Something about the cherub’s face moved me. Like being exposed to the elements somehow peeled away the layers revealing a more honest face, a scarred face. That’s how I felt on Saturday listening to another person’s words so accurately narrate my own life. I was terrified that my face, still raw with all my missing you, would show. And maybe it did. I don’t know. I stood there, an exposed statue, and said something to close the session. I have no idea what I said. I hope it was coherent. Or at least real words and not just a mash of stuttered consonants. I don’t know. I really don’t know.
My mom wore your favorite turquoise shirt tonight. It looks pretty on her. For a moment tonight she was standing in front of your photo, the one from your birthday where you’re wearing the turquoise shirt. I looked back and forth from my mom’s face to your face. You are so much alike. I wish you were still here finishing her sentences and laughing at the same things.
Mother’s Day and your birthday are just around the corner. It doesn’t seem fair that I have my mother and she doesn’t have you. The rows and rows of Mother’s Day cards in the stores are so unkind, so cruel to the motherless. I wish you could tell me words to say to her that will make those days easier, words that would flush away some of the anguish. I’m afraid that when the time comes, I will stutter consonants and cry and the right words will lodge in a lump in my throat. I need those words.
I believe God speaks to me in dreams and I dream of you almost every night. Sometimes they are dreams invented in my imagination, but other times they’re dreams pulled from the pages of my memories. I hope I’ll dream a memory of your words tonight, that I dream of something to write, something to give my mom on Mother’s Day.
P.S-And just so it’s the last thing I say to you tonight, I love you, Gramma.