First Deathiversary

Dear Mom,

I can hardly believe it’s been an entire year since I saw you last! True, so much has happened over the last 365 days, but they have sped by in a blur, it seems.

Shortly after your funeral, we went through everything in your house (a daunting task), decided what to keep, what to toss, what to give away, and eventually, within a few weeks, cleaned it all out. Saying good-bye to the last place I saw you alive was tough, especially since I did it alone one snowy afternoon.

I finally got my chance to nest, though finding myself so alone in the prospect made it a bittersweet experience. I am grateful to have inherited much of your household, including furniture, linens, plants, dishes, and even cleaning supplies – thanks!

Thanks to being the co-executor of your estate, I’ve learned a lot more about finances and “the system”. I’ve also assumed your role as Mark’s spokesperson, and I feel fully capable of doing “The Irate Sister” routine if I need to. He will hopefully finally have a home sometime this year, thanks to your tireless work, and the help of some other gems I don’t have to mention.

I’ve done lots of singing, with the help of the Noted! project and Cactus Jam, and now I have prospects with a new band, Fourth Avenue. Singing is definitely one of the things I was meant to do, as I’m sure you knew.

I’m also now the Dining Room Manager at the pub and the owner jokes (?) about selling it to me someday. Hmm.

Another thing that causes me to shake my head is the fact that I’ve been in the HC now for two and a half years! Me! Remember when I said I didn’t think I’d live in Canada ever again? Here I am eating my words. And as much as I think I’d enjoy living in a city where people are more style- and culture-conscious and it’s cool to be 27 and single, I am also enjoying getting to know my home county in a different way, and I’m not hoping to leave anytime soon.

Holidays are weird without you, Mom, though I have to say I enjoy having the option of using my own kitchen, my own house, to entertain my family. This Christmas, I couldn’t bear the thought that we might not have new books, so I used money that has been returned to you from taxes, etc. to buy new books for everyone. I was sure you wouldn’t mind. 🙂

Most recently, I did something you likely wouldn’t approve of, and, ironically, I did it in your memory! I got a tattoo on my left forearm:

I wanted to be able to see it every day, to see your initials, to remember your wisdom. I love that it’s got my handwriting and yours – it’s a precious possession, and I wear it with pride.

I have to end this letter, Mama, because three of my siblings, a very pregnant sister-in-law, and three neices and I are meeting for dinner tonight to remember you. We’re hoping to find at least a little bit of open water, whether on the lake or the river, to toss some fresh flowers in your memory, just as we did on the day of your funeral.

First, though, I want to share two poems I’ve been thinking a lot about today. First, in sadness for the days gone by and in recognition of the many times tears have sprung upon me suddenly:

Tears, Idle Tears

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.

Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more.

(Lord Alfred Tennyson)

And secondly, what I feel is my theme for this coming year, hope:

Hope

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

(Emily Dickinson)

I love you forever, Mommy.

Sarah

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