February 1st Letter
My dearest Carol,
Where do I even start? I’m still trying to process the fact that you’re dead. Forty plus years of memories flood me. I’m drowning in them. Drowning in my guilt. If I’d only reached out more. If I’d only sent my email two days earlier. If I’d only made the time to have you come to my place that week ... maybe it wouldn’t have happened.
If only ...
So much regret. A wasted emotion. Does nothing to change the past. But maybe it can change the future. Maybe I can learn a lesson from this. A valuable lesson. Nothing new or earth-shattering – other than the fact that I don’t practice it, even though I know I should. Live in the moment. Make time for people who are important. Take care of the big rocks before turning attention to the little rocks. Did I mention – make time for people who are important in your life.
You knew this. You tried to live this. You taught this novel concept to me. To me, who was always rushing head long from project to project, task to task, crisis to crisis. You taught me show down. To appreciate each simple moment in time. I still remember you picking up a cup of hot chocolate. Taking a sip. Taking me through the appreciation of that simple thing. Teaching me to be aware of the feel of it, the texture of the cup, the feel of the liquid as it passed over my lips and down my throat, the smell of it. Savoring it in a new and complete way. And surprisingly, I got it. Saw the value in it. I think of you whenever I catch myself and stop to appreciate a moment ... or chastise my kids to live in the moment. To be fully present.
I remember your infectious laugh and smile. You lit up the room. Corny but true, And how is that possible given the heartache you endured in your life? More than any one person should ever have to bear. You were a pillar of strength. Until you weren’t. And then the wheels all fell off your wagon. You came close to getting them all back on – a few times – but somehow a nut always came loose. A never-ending fight to keep rolling without your wheels.
I’d like to think I helped you move that wagon forward for you from time to time. Not enough. Never enough. But maybe sometimes. Maybe a bit. I’d like to think so. I know you moved me. From the time we were kids. You challenged me, pushed me – to be myself, to be unshackled, to be better. Authentic. That was the word you always used. Be my authentic self.
So starting tonight, in celebration of your birthday – the birthday we were supposed to spend together but were robbed of the chance – in honour of you, and drawing on the magic of your birthday (only days after your last day), I will undertake to search for my authentic self, to reconnect with that girl-turned-woman and to live in the moment, to appreciate each moment as fully as I’m able and always being true to myself – to my better self. I’m honouring you, maybe I can find me.