I never thought I was strong until I watched you die, Mom.
How can it possibly have been 15 years since I last heard your voice? It can’t have been that long since I last looked into your eyes, willing you to know how much I love you. I sat an all night vigil with some of the woman who loved you most where I held your hand, unwilling to not be holding on to you as you finally let go. As your last breaths came, I climbed into bed with you, picked you up and cradled you as you use to do to me, and crooned a goodnight song to you.
But, my sunshine left. That long, cold night took it. It was endless and yet not long enough. Once your last breath had left, when you finally relaxed and you were at peace, I did what had to be done.
I had the sacred privilege of washing your body. Every wipe of the washcloth, I thought of how many times you must have washed up after one of us. When I anointed your body with oil, I thought about all the times you would rub cream on my always sunburned skin. As I combed and arranged your hair, I remembered how many times you would brush my hair. I pulled the softest of socks over your feet, knowing that even though you no longer felt it, your feet were always cold. I prepared your body, Mom, with love and honor and respect and I realized that I was strong. You had left me, but you gave me one parting gift. You made me realize something.
I never had to be 100 percent strong because you were always there, and I could count on you to be my strength. When you left, you left your strength embedded so deep in me that there was no doubt of it. I’m strong, Momma. Your death taught me that.
Your legacy lives on. Your grandchildren may have only had you for a few years, but their lives are filled with Babcia stories and I tell them all about you. The truth, I tell them the truth. I tell them of your struggles and your failures as well as your triumphs, so they will realize that you were strong, too. Even thought they don’t realize it, you strength lives on in them.
I share it with them.
15 years is an eternity, and a nanosecond.
You are missed.
You are honored.
Your are remembered.
You are loved.
5/25/51 – 3/21/04