The things we leave behind

February was the anniversary of my mother’s death. This is the last year that I am, in time, closer to her than I am to this life I live now. A year from now I will be 34 and she will have been gone for seventeen years. I will have lived as much of my life without her as I did with her.

Of course I realize that I already am so far from her. Although the president’s name and his war are the same as they were back in 1991, I am a different person now. I have a different name, I have a husband, children, a house. So much has escaped my grasp over the miles these years create– her laugh, what we were like then, how it felt to have a mother at all.

Perhaps the worst part for me is knowing that even though I am everything to my girls—the wiper of tears, the fixer of broken hearts, the one that shows them the world piece by piece, that if I were gone tomorrow, they would remember almost nothing of me at all. All the same things of me would fade for them. What would I leave them with? What have I been left with?

It has taken these sixteen years to find out what wasn’t lost. The things my mother left behind. I am a kind and loving person and a fierce fighter when I need to be. I believe that people are mostly good and I believe in second chances. I trust that when someone tells me that they love me it is because it is true and that it is because I am worth loving.

I believe that my mother was crazy about me because she told me that she was, and so I make sure that I tell my girls that I am crazy about them because it is the truest thing I know.

I am open-minded and compassionate. I judge people on who they are and what they do in this life rather than what they look like or who they vote for or who they sleep with. These are all things that my mother gave to me. These things are her legacy, they are how she will live on in this life, through me, and though my girls. And they are everything that I have left of her.

And most days, they are enough.

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