Today is the 16th anniversary of your journey to Heaven. As I type that, 16 feels like forever. Other times, I feel like you were just taking me school shopping, calling me your “Pina Colada” or singing “Wake up, wake up” as you entered my room in the morning.
This is also the sixth year that I have written an anniversary letter to you- to keep your spirit alive and to help me feel close to you. Each year I had new news to tell you- meeting Joe, getting engaged, getting married, being pregnant, having our first son, moving and becoming pregnant for the second time…well this year is yet another big one- our second son was born last August just a few weeks after my last letter. I know you were with me the day Liam was born, helping me once again welcome him into the world. His middle name is Jude, after you. He is full of spunk and personality. He is an amazing addition to our family. This is your tenth grandchild! I see traits of you in both my sons- Braden is fun, sensitive, laid-back and excited about everything. Liam is full of spunk, energy and loves to laugh.
In my last letter, I expressed concern for becoming a Mom of two- how would I spread out my love and give both kids my heart equally? Well, once Liam was born it really wasn’t a question. There’s always room in a Mom’s heart for her children and you never feel that you are slighting the other one. You were an amazing role model to me in our 21 years together. There are days where Shawn and I talk about what our lives would be like if you were here. We talk about how unfair it is, but we also try to guess what you would be doing- retired (but still volunteering in the medical world), living somewhere fun and close to us with maybe another place on the lake or somewhere warm for us to visit. You would travel and spend a lot of time with our families. Nana Judy would be the top of everyone’s minds and hearts. Even though my kids haven’t met you in the physical sense they talk about you and know you. I make sure to show them lots of pictures, talk about memories and visit your gravesite with them. Nobody can replace you, but I am thankful for the relationship that Dad (Bapa) has with the grandkids, and for amazing in-laws who are very involved in Braden and Liam’s lives just like you would have been.
Although I still feel your void significantly, I do feel your presence daily. My next door neighbor’s name is Judy, the only other Judy I have known. I think perhaps you chose this house so that I could know another Judy. J Now, for your love of running- I remember you going for your six mile runs and thinking that you were gone a “really long time.” Now if the boys are on a jog in the stroller with me Braden sometimes says, “Mom this takes a really long time (even if it’s a 3-miler).” That makes me laugh. I feel close to you when I am out jogging. I can see why you liked it so much. It is very peaceful in the morning when I go. It is time for me to clear my head, not be interrupted with modern technology and I can lose myself in nature and my breathing. Many people practice yoga to feel centered, but running really helps me feel centered. Thank you for showing me that running is a great healthy hobby. It makes me feel refreshed and focused!
Not only have I learned so much from you as a Mother, but I learned a ton about being a strong and independent woman. I learned that although family is the most important thing, you also need to have goals, hobbies and friends to be an even better Mom. Well, this fall I will do my first Duathlon. I also started teaching a new class at the Y the beginning of this year. I went on a girls’ trip to
In last year’s letter, I also told you that we moved closer to
I’d like to share one final thing in my letter this year- a bittersweet memory. There was a surgery you had around Easter time 16 ½ years ago. I was in the recovery room by myself waiting for you to wake up from the anesthesia and rubbing your hand. Before you opened your eyes you said, “I knew that was you”. This moment comes to my mind so often. I think it’s because I now understand how powerful and comforting a child’s touch is to a Mom. (So, that is the sweet part of the memory.) The bitter part is the actual surgery itself. This final surgery was the one that would tell us the true direction your cancer was heading and how much time you had left with us. It was the surgery that forced me to come to terms with your illness because I knew how bad it had gotten. Prior to that, I stayed on the positive route (with you) and didn’t let one bad thought enter my mind. I try to put this memory to the very back of my mind, but I recently had some friends experience a hard time (involving a surgery) and this memory has come flooding back. When we go through hard times we are so mad, and in time we realize maybe why we had to go through them. Well, now I know why this memory comes flooding back so easily- so I can stay sensitive to others going through hard times. I am able to sympathize in a deeper way now. I know you would want me to turn this memory into something good, so thank you for that!
Ok, I think that is my longest letter to date so far. I never know what I am going to say when I first sit down to write this annual letter, but when I start the words just flow. 16 years later, you are never far from my mind and I continue to learn and grow from you. I am blessed.
Love, Your Pina Colada