Dear Mom (from John Muse-Fisher)
My heart is broken.
Your body left us five days ago. It was an awful day. The worst.
It was also a beautiful day. You came home from the hospital in the nick of time. All seven of your children and Dad were home with you. Just enough time for each of us to say we love you one more time. Time for you to say you love us too. We reminded you that Big Bob once told you that you were his favorite; you liked hearing that. We showed you a picture of Meggie, and pictures of Moonie, and Big Bob. You liked that too.
We were with you when you died. We sobbed and wailed and wept together. We embraced each other as best we could — half trying to remember social distancing guidelines. We sat with you after you passed, numb. We told stories. We played music that reminded each of us of you, each taking turns picking a song. The songs ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime. From the Magical Mr. Mistoffelees (from Cats) to Leaving on a Jet Plane — the song you and Dad would listen to before parting ways after a weekend when you first started dating.
Then someone arrived to take your body away. We each said goodbye to your body.
I miss you so much. But you’re not in pain anymore, and that, at least, is good.
As awful as it was on Tuesday, it was also beautiful.
But now I’m scared. I’m scared about what will happen next. I’m scared about the first time for everything without your body or your voice or your touch. The first Mother’s Day when I can’t call you or see you. My first birthday without a call or a card or a perfectly thoughtful gift from you. The first time I think I’d like to give you a call to check in and realize I can’t. The first time I crave your spaghetti sauce. The first time I come home and you’re not there. The first time I leave home and I can’t give you a hug and tell you I love you.
I’m scared of every time in the days and months and years ahead when I smell a scent, hear a song, see a picture, or do anything at all that reminds me of you. So much will remind me of you. I’m scared that in those moments grief will overcome me. I’m also scared that in those moments grief might not overcome me, and I’ll be angry at myself that it hasn’t because it should.
I’m scared that each of my siblings will experience those moments too and that there will be nothing I’ll be able to do to help them. I’m scared that Dad will experience those moments, and your brothers and sisters, and in-laws, and nieces and nephews, and grandchildren, and friends.
I’m scared that I’ll wonder if I could have done more to make you better. I’m scared that I’ll wonder if I made the most of my time with you, if I told you I loved you enough, if I was patient enough and grateful enough. I’m scared that my siblings and Dad will wonder the same things and have the same doubts.
But I’m also so grateful. I’m so grateful that I had you as a mother at all. That I still have you as my mother, even if your body is gone.
I’ve never been more proud or felt more lucky to be a Muse-Fisher than I have in the last week. We all love each other. That is so clear. We’re all here for each other, even if and when we’re not physically together. That is also so clear. You made us like this. And I’m so grateful for that.
I love you, Mom. Even if your body is gone, I know you’re here. You’ll always be here. I’ll be looking for you everyday. I can’t wait to see you. I love you.