Because Life can only be lived a moment at a time.

For Mama

Dear Mama,

Happy Mother's Day. It's been almost 20 years since I last saw you and I'm sorry we couldn't talk. We still had so much to say.

I mailed you a letter but you went into the hospital so suddenly I don't know if you got the chance to read it. I don't remember exactly what I wrote but the gist of it was that I appreciated all you and Daddy had done for me and that I loved you.

That's one thing we got right. We never ended a phone call or parted company without saying "I love you." I thank God I don't have to live with that particular regret.

I wasn't a kid when you left me. I'd been married 18 years and our sons were 9 and 13. But I still had some growing up to do; like a child I was so absorbed by my little galaxy that I didn't pay enough attention to yours. The literal distance between us---I in Colorado and you in South Carolina---didn't help matters. When we talked on the phone you pretended you were fine and I pretended to believe you.

We didn't always agree on things, probably because we were so much alike, both strong-willed Southern women who want what they want when they want it. You could wield guilt like a scalpel and you expressed your displeasure with icy silence. As for me, I was so certain I was on the right side of our disagreements that I dismissed whatever you did say. (And I sense I may have inherited your guilt superpower.)

If we could talk one more time I'd ask you to tell me your story, all of it: Your childhood summers on the Outer Banks, the first time you met Daddy, your dreams, your disappointments.

I'd also share what I've learned in the past 20 years. Now I understand how hard it must have been for you to watch me and my young Air Force lieutenant move from South Carolina to Texas. I imagine you knew---you always seemed to know things--- that we'd never live near you again.

Almost two years ago, when your sweet great-granddaughter was born, I understood---truly understood, right down to my center---how hard it must have been for you to see your grandsons so infrequently. But what an impression you made on them in the time you had. They still talk about your trips with them to Wilson's; the $10 you'd give each of them to buy baseball cards might as well have been $10,000.

I'd like to talk about how fast life seems to fly, how the little boys who devoured junk food at your kitchen table grew up in a matter of days. I wish I could have shared their milestones with you, because you would have been just as proud as I was.

You weren't a perfect mother. I'm not either. But you loved your family fiercely and you taught me to do the same.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama. Thank you for everything.


Rain, rain, go away...

The Writing's on the Wall