It’s having to YouTube how to peel yautia.
It’s having to Google translate Spanish.
It’s all the little girls holding their mother’s hands on the street.
It’s all the elderly women and their middle aged clones sitting between shopping bags on the train.
It’s buying flowers every 20th because the petals feel like the tops of her tender hands.
It’s not knowing who to put in my emergency contacts now.
It’s not having someone to ask if these shoes match with this shirt.
It’s realizing my life was on training wheels the whole time I thought I was adulting.
It’s realizing that “You are my sunshine” is the saddest song ever created.
It’s having to keep family drama to myself.
It’s not knowing whether to bundle up unless I actually look up the weather.
It’s sleeping all the time because dreams are the only way to see her.
It’s chronologically organizing and filing day every card she’s ever given to me.
It’s caring for an oversized pair of pajamas the way a museum conservator does artifacts.
It’s not having a partner the night before Thanksgiving who knows how to tuck in the turkey wings.
It’s buying nothing with her name, for Christmas, mother’s day, or her birthday – ever again.
It’s being truly homesick, because home is where the heart is and my mom, was my heart.
It’s crying at the live action trailer of Dumbo, because damn those bastards who take his mommy. Heaven forbid Disney decides to reboot Bambi next.
It’s her number in my favorites, that I refuse to delete, because she is still my favorite person to talk to.
It’s never being able to talk to my favorite person again and when the cold turkey becomes unbearable, it’s stalking her Facebook feed, memorizing text message threads and writing her in messenger despite that it’s the same as writing to myself.
It’s writing her into a Christmas card for my dad because I’ll be damned if I have to refer to my parents as anything other than a pair – two halves of a whole.
It’s having a dream where she isn’t really gone, and it was all a trick, because she is here – in the flesh, and I’ve never known true happiness until that moment.
It’s waking up at one in the morning and realizing she died all over again, and real life, is the nightmare.
It’s knowing my life will always be “the before” and “the after”.
And most of all, it’s knowing I will never bask in the unconditional, effortless love, that is my mother’s.
– Rachel R. Vasquez, January 2019
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
I don’t think many people realize, until they’ve lost someone so integrated into their lives, what having that person gone is like. It affects so many things, it’s this gaping hole in your life, that you are forced to live with. To learn to live with.
Some things have “work arounds”, like youtubing a video about something I could’ve asked my mom about. The 2 years before she passed, she taught me how to make pasteles from scratch and we made them together for the holidays. This past holiday, I stood in the supermarket feeling completely bewildered, because I didn’t know the difference between yautia – white or yellow – and malanga. I think if I didn’t have the internet on my phone to help, I wouldn’t have tried making pasteles without her again.
For other things, like the urge to call her, it doesn’t go away. It’s almost been a year and even today, without thinking, I thought, “I should call my mom,” and then to realize, “Oh wait. Yeah…”
Running errands have become quieter for me. Either she kept me company or I called her on the phone to catch up. I like to talk to people when I cook dinner, and she was one of the people I called most. Now there are times I cook in silence, and my husband asks me, why aren’t I talking to anyone? Because sometimes calling someone different makes it feel a bit better, other times, nothing can replace talking to her so I choose to talk to no one at all. There, in the emptiness of a phone call and conversation that could’ve have been – had it not been for cancer.
It sucks. Still trying to find ways to cope. Writing is one way. Taking it day by day.