Each time I cross a monumental threshold, I think of them. Of her, mostly. Of the way she stood in my parent’s hall bathroom, the vent fan blasting.
It was the last stop before the garage and the car door. The last stop before whatever destination came next—a dance recital or a Friday night dinner or a Christmas mass.
She’d stand there, brush brush brushing my sister’s hair, freeing the knots. Kels hated it, yelling and protesting the whole time, but I know now that was love—pressing onward when you knew someone needed you, even if they couldn’t see it clearly themselves.
She would have been 75 today—one of those years you think about spending on the front porch, iced tea in hand, granddaughter by your side.
She would have been a fiery 75-year-old, freckles dotting her face and her arms and her legs.
Her white hair still in thick tufts along the nape of her neck, not falling to the floor, defenseless against the chemotherapy.
Her shoes on and her purse in her lap the moment any one of her grandchildren, anywhere, had something big happening—she was a front row resident, a lifetime cheerleader. She loved us good and hard—tough but deeply, deeply caring.
She would have cried when you told her you were getting married next year—to a boy who loves you just as much as she did, full and unapologetically.
She would have sat proudly in the front row, hands in her lap, tears at the corners of her eyes. She would have loved your father-in-law. His stories. His character. His beliefs about the world and his children and his own grandchildren.
She would have been beautiful that day.
You don’t think about all the days you’ll lose with her until they crop up—one by one. Graduations, first jobs, engagements, marriage, houses, children—her great grandchildren.
You don’t think about telling stories of this woman to all the people you’ll someday know and love—people who don’t even know what a bead of hope she was in this crazy messy world.
You remember her white hair, her romance novels, her chocolate desserts. You remember all the freckles, the ribbons she threaded into barrettes for you. You remember the week they told you you couldn’t come to the hospital, you had to go to school, but that the waiting would be over soon. The waiting, it would be over soon.
You remember the funeral, and you wish she could see you in your own dress.
She’ll be there. We’re lucky like that. We know she’ll be there.
When we lose people, there are some we know, without a doubt, will always scoot up front for the best seat in the house, to see us smile, start our own family, get ready to brush our own daughter’s hair.
Here or not, she’ll be there. She never wanted to miss a big moment. Couldn’t possibly stop now.