Your smile shines back at me from a small mahogany box on my dresser, your photograph resting amongst various other trinkets and reminders of your presence. Your rings, worn and tarnished from their days spent on your indefatigable hands. Leaden antique buttons pulled from one of your innumerable collections of obscure objects. Handwritten letters in your deliberate, firm scrawl, some offering heartfelt words of encouragement as I chart my path in life, the swirls of ink marked by your own tears as you realized that you may not be there to deliver those words in person, others simply commanding, “Don’t forget to take the trash down,” which, although practical life advice, is perhaps slightly less meaningful than your other words of guidance.
On some days this box feels light, full of loose, soaring memories. Memories of deafening sing-alongs to otherwise forgettable summer pop songs as we barreled down the highway at 80+ miles per hour in a clunky old minivan. Memories of your unbridled laughter as your cooking set off the smoke alarm yet again. But today the smoke has cleared, and the box feels undeniably heavy. Heavy with two years of one-sided conversations, heavy with anger over the still unanswered question of “Why?”, heavy with the ever-growing mass of information that has yet to reach your ears, with the accumulation of events that you are no longer here to share with us, heavy with grief and tears, heavy with our love, and heavy with our loss. The box won’t stay this heavy forever; soon it will return to being filled with laughter and warm memories, but today, I carry around its weight with me as I remember the aggressively-compassionate, perpetually-goofy, and uncontrollably-loving woman the world lost 2 years ago.
I love you, mom.