One year already since my mom died. Time has done its thing, managing to be trippy and relative at once.
How can a year have passed when I remember that day in far greater detail than I remember yesterday? And how could it be that ONLY a year has passed when I have learned and lived so much?
My dear friend, who lost her mom less than a week after I lost mine, says she has aged in the last year. It’s a physical thing for her. For me, it’s more mental and emotional. I have matured at a rate that I haven’t experienced since Dad died nearly 19 years ago. The change back then, I’ve always felt, set me up for success in middle age. If old age is in my future, I think I’m better able to handle it now. Time did that and I’m grateful.
I don’t like long goodbyes, and so, of course, Julia Mae’s goodbye lasted 3½ years. She got better in Phoenix before she got worse and that gave us extra time. Nana anchored my daughter’s early childhood. She got a chance to make an impact on young adult Ashley, too. I can’t imagine Ashley’s life without those last years.
A year is enough time for regret to lose its sharp edges. Those moments you can’t get back (because there’s really no do-overs in the active stages of dying), those words you didn’t say, those times when you should have been more daughter than caregiver? Time turns regret into a missed opportunity, and for some reason, missing opportunities are easier to live with than regrets. I think a year from now missed opportunities will morph into something else, something even softer. I’m looking forward to that.
About a month before she died, Nana felt well enough to sit a spell on the front porch. It was a beautiful spring evening. Freesia that survived my neglect scented the air. I pulled some blossoms so Nana could get a better whiff. She seemed to enjoy that while looking across the street at the house she watched change over the years from an eyesore to house beautiful. It was among the last of her good days. I think we both knew that. We didn’t talk about it. Missed opportunity.
Today, the freesia is spent for the season. It will come back and I’ll plant even more this fall. I can’t imagine a time when this old house won’t have freesia.
We planted a young, flowering tree in the front yard in Nana’s memory. For several months, it looked dead, causing a lot more grief and anxiety than I expected. I didn’t want another long goodbye. The neighbors kept encouraging me to give it time, along with water and nutrients. Sure enough, early this month new leaves emerged. A few white flowers appeared three days ago. Nana’s tree is the best-looking thing in my yard right now.
Time and love do amazing things.