Dear Madre,

This seems like a big milestone and I guess it is. Half a decade without you. In so many ways it seems unfathomable but also sometimes I forget. Like maybe we were best friends in high school and we just grew apart so we have no idea what is happening in each other’s lives. Besides this letter I write to you every year that you never respond to. I have no major updates because I don’t really know what I’ve done in the past year besides exist. Also, there’s this deadly pandemic happening so I don’t even really know what I did last week; my brain is mushy oatmeal.

I did start therapy last year, which was great. I got to bitch about you without the yikes, why is she talking about her dead mom like that — the way I imagine other people would respond if I was like “hey sometimes she was really shitty and I don’t have to hear her insinuate I’m going to hell again which is really an upside to all this!!” But we don’t have to hash that out again, I think we did that in the year three letter.

Matt and Barb bought a house. It is gorgeous and you would love the outdoor space. I can’t tell Matt because you know how he feels about mushy shit from his sisters but I just cry sometimes thinking about how much Barb’s mom loves him. I’m doing it now! Obviously you’ll never be replaced but he has been gifted the perfect stand-in. Sometimes I don’t recognize the person she talks about when she talks about him but I know you would.

Becky is pregnant again as you know. Obviously I have already picked Brantley as my favorite child of Becky’s so hopefully, this one isn’t as funny or cool and then I won’t feel bad. Unless Brantley doesn’t want to take care of me when I’m old, in which case Boy # 2 will receive The Favorite plaque in front of his photo.

I’m glad you aren’t here to live through this virus. We would have argued about when you needed to close the shoppe because your media diet was not healthy. I imagine you would have given meals to people who needed it and put yourself in the hole even further. I am not sure it, your dream, would have survived. Truthfully, I am also glad I have one less person to worry about. I am exhausted from constantly thinking about what the people I love are doing. Where they are going. What their chances are of getting it. I learned to let all of that go in therapy — I can only control what I can control — but being a fixer is something I’ll have to work at for the rest of my life and I’m giving myself a break now. It’s been hard to watch people lose their loved ones so suddenly and not be able to say goodbye. So much is blurry in the last five years but that is something I will never forget. How it felt when I knew for certain you were here in this world and then the second I learned that you weren’t. How it felt to not get to say goodbye. I hold on to Dad too tightly because of this and I learned to let that go too but maybe another day I’ll put it into practice.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why you waited so long to try living the life that you wanted. But maybe you didn’t wait. Maybe you had no idea what you really wanted. I’ve analyzed your diary like a detective looking for clues. When exactly did you become so depressed?? Was it really Mam dying or was that just an accelerant on an already lit match? After you died so many people asked why you went to that house. If you knew it was dangerous. I asked myself those questions for a long time too but I think the truth is hard to say out loud. I think you knew and although your hubris may have prevented you from thinking anything could happen to you, your depression made you not care. When I realized that I hated you for it but now I understand. I knew you as my mom, not ever an adult woman with some traumatic shit going on. I guess maybe I couldn’t understand that until I was an adult woman with some traumatic shit of my own.

I made a 40 Before 40 list. Forty things I want to do before I turn forty. I made it so I don’t become you, divorced at 55 after twenty-six years of marriage, and making random friends in bars that eventually lead to the circumstances of my death. But when I started doing the things on the list I realized I was doing it to become me. I wish I could talk to you. For all of the judgment you dished out, you’re still the only person I feel I could be the most honest with. ( When Becky and Erin read that they will probably think what the hell!!) There are many kinds of Mom relationships and some people probably had it better than us. But I got ours. And it was good. And I’ll never feel that way about anyone else.

I am really sobbing now which is probably my cue to go. I try not to completely lose it anymore unless I’ve had too much wine in which case I will call Becky and ask her to listen to me drunk ramble. Which she always does.

Every morning when I wake up, I silently say I am grateful for this day. Maybe I am speaking to God. Maybe I am speaking to you. Who is in charge of my account up there? Either way, I hope to begin living a life where I say it at the end of the day too. Where I am not just grateful that I woke up, but I am grateful that I lived.

As always hugs and love to Grandma Koons and especially Mam. I miss her so much.

Te Amo Madre. Forever and Ever and Ever.

Lover of books, wine and dogs; in no particular order. Advocate for abused men and women. Aspiring writer.