On February 6, 2010, I learned my mom was going to die—not in an abstract, non-immediate way, but in the very near future.
Whether I mark the date consciously or not, my mood shifts yearly in early February, as I remember what it was like to discover I would be saying goodbye soon. Too soon.
Today I had Valentine’s Day lunch with my fiancee and his mom. The restaurant’s playlist was one my mom could have chosen herself.
I felt her near, but not in a mournful way. Rather, I felt her near in all the love:
- For my fiancee: Mom only met him once, but she loved him immediately. My last voicemails are ones in which she urged me to marry him. Preferably in 2009.
- For my fiancee’s mom: Her ways were strange to me, as I have mentioned before, but her love is unwavering. My son would rather be with his grandma than just about anywhere else on this planet.
- For my fiancee’s grandmom: I love her so much. I can’t even tell you why I love her, especially when she’s watching her 17th consecutive hour of Fox News, but I do. Completely.
- For my siblings, including Nick: Did I harass them endlessly when I was younger? Yes, yes, I did. And yet it was their love, more even than my mom’s, that filled me with the certainty I was loved no matter where I went or what I did. It was their love that made me feel unstoppable, and their love that gave me the strength to pass through my life’s hardest trial’s.
- For my sisters-of-heart Darth, who introduced me to the goodness of girlfriends and whose presence—or even the thought thereof—calms when I am so overwrought I can barely think, and Amelia, who started out as my little sister, but who has taught me more than I could possibly ever have taught her.
- For my friends El and Mackenzie, who talk me through anything and everything without judgment or scorn, but rather with love and reason. I spoke with one of them today, but both of them are forever in my heart. Unceasingly.
- For my ex, Nathan: He remembers my mom before she was not-Mom. Every time I think of him, I remember her asking, “Are you sitting on my daughter’s lap?!” and him shifting seats immediately before saying, “Uh, no. No, ma’am.” He flew down to Los Angeles to drive me and my son up to visit my mom for what I knew would likely be my son’s and my mom’s only meeting, ever. Before we drove, he hugged my not-then-fiancee goodbye and swore to him that he would take me and my son safely to Oregon to meet my mama. When my mom died 2.5 months later, he stood with my siblings and me as we watched my mom’s casket be laid to rest in the cold, hard earth. He hummed Kenny Rogers with us as we sang our final farewell, and I was comforted to know he was there. Always.
- For, again, my fiancee: He knew I didn’t want to take home any of my mom’s funny knick-knacks, but overrode my protests by telling my mom, “Yes, yes, we can make room for this. Absolutely.” His compassion and gentleness with my mom combine in memory two of the people I love most, so that I look at him and remember him with her, and know her love as if she were with me now.
I’ve never been the sort for Valentine’s Day. Romantic love? Pchah, who cares? But I am always, always, the sort for love, and today, though I am tearful, I am a million times over grateful that my life is so full of love that I can dismiss at will a day that’s meant to be dedicated to it . . .
. . . because my life is full of it, every day.
Every single day.