We understood each other from the first moment we sat down to talk. You took me in as your own daughter and never questioned the love you had for me. It was almost painful to be around you at the beginning, I felt foolish and incompetent, unfit to receive the love in your eyes. But I was drawn to you like a bee to honey, I felt safe and accepted. Slowly I stopped flinching and tensing when you drew me in for a hug and a kiss.
I treasured our outings for brunch, shopping, and long talks. I looked forward to seeing you every Sunday to chat about the week, the girls, news or silly Hollywood gossip. I felt so normal when I was with you. As if I was living episodes from an early 50’s sitcom. And yet it felt so real, with your encouraging words pushing me forward to reach my potential, to see myself for who I really was and not as a product of where I came from. You inspired me, you continue to inspire me with everything you accomplished, a real self-made woman.
I loved you so much, and because of that love, I continued on a path that I should have veered off long ago, years ago. I put up with personal unhappiness so that I could continue to be in your light, so that I could feel the warmth of your love and smile.
The love you gave me, the love and unselfish welcoming you gave the girls and I, is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.
I kept working towards professional success because I had you as a real life role model leading the way with your kind words and your kind eyes. I never had to tell you about my personal scars and emotional turmoil because you knew, you’d been there too. I never felt so connected to someone nor as validated by someone’s belief in me. I began the process of self-love as you broke through my many layers of self-loathing and stubborn belief that I deserved my past.
I can’t even write how I feel, what you made me feel, without sounding choppy and restricted. You are so special to me that I feel that with each word that I write, a bit of you escapes from my heart. But deep down I knew that it couldn’t last, that even I, who grew up thinking I could always just “get through it”, could no longer stay where I was just to continue calling you family.
It has been the most painful event in my life to lose you. And no one knows. I kept it strapped deep down in the back of my throat, swallowing it down each time it threatened to undo my self-control and break me down into a ball of grief.
I lost someone again without being able to say goodbye. Without any words of explanation though you needed none, you knew why, and I think you were happy that I reached that decision based on the happiness of my most loved ones. But I have not shed a tear for you, I have not allowed myself that luxury because I won’t be able to hold back. It catches me at the oddest moments. I can be driving on the highway by myself and my shoulders will start shaking, the pain running up my spine like a cold shiver. And when I feel a taste of the excruciating pain lurking within me I quickly take a deep breath to recapture it in my chest securely.
But it goes as quickly as it comes and I remind myself that I am incredibly fortunate to have had you at all. You showed me what kind of self-respect, love, compassion, and kindness exists not only in a human being but in a relationship as well. You made me see, by example, never by lecturing me, that I was not broken, that I was not a lost cause. You helped me see the strength I had all along, the resilience I had shown in getting through yesterday, and the undeniable statement that I would be happy and successful in every way.
Some day I will allow myself to think of you uninterruptedly. When I am alone, I will find a quiet desolate place, where the wind can carry my voice onto nothingness and only the leaves will whisper the echo of my cries. I will give full reign to the pain within and howl at the moon about my loss. And I will feel relieved as I exhale the emotions out of my soul but I fear the emptiness that might replace it.
You were my mother on all accounts, you carried me through terrible times, and you taught me to look at my blood not with contempt or anger, but with kindness and forgiveness.
I never thought I’d lose you, not because I thought you were mine, but because I never thought I’d have the strength to walk away.