That day has come around again. April 4th, or rather the night of April 3rd. Three years. Three years since you’ve been gone. I remember when you passed, saying how it felt like you were on a two year trip to a desert island or the Himalayas or somewhere equally remote, but that I would see you again. It’s been three years now so I know it’s not true. I no longer feel that way, either. I know you are gone for good.
So I soldier on. The years will go by, and my children will grow up, and I will move farther and farther away from you, the memories will fade though I hope not completely. I will always come back to this day to check in and to write you a letter.
I think I was doing a bit better when I wrote to you last year, because I was doing some therapy. I’m not now, and I really, really need to. Therapy helps. Talking helps. I haven’t been really dreaming about you, but I know that’s for other reasons. I’d love to see you in my dreams, make it a meeting point, making it a way for me to spend some time with you and to remember you. I remember last year dreaming that it was 1999 and we were traveling to Greece again, it was a lovely dream. I’ll get there.
We are doing good, Mom. I hope you know that and can see that. I hope you can somehow see your granddaughter. Goodness, you would be so proud ! You would be so pleased to have a granddaughter and I often wonder about the conversations you would have with your grandchildren. I wonder if you would speak French or English to them. I would probably insist you speak English. I wonder if you would have taken them places. Ah, all those things that could have been.
Well, you don’t have to worry about us. We are in good health. Life isn’t perfect, but I have to say, Mom, it really isn’t that bad either. We have it pretty good. As a matter of fact, Mom, coming up this summer on my 40th birthday, it’s 40 years since you gave birth to me, and I have none of the midlife crises that so many 40 year olds get. I’m grateful to be turning 40 and I’m so pleased with where I am in life. Yes, there are still things to be worked out, but I’m at a great place in life. Two healthy children, ten years of marriage, a job I like to go back to, an apartment in Paris. I am very blessed. We are blessed.
This summer, we will be spending the summer in California. It’ll be the first time we’ve gone since you passed in 2011. This is the longest I’ve ever been away from California, or the US. I’m really looking forward to it, though I don’t know if it will be sad or happy. Probably both, right, Mom ? I am looking forward to taking my kids to the beach at the border of Venice and Santa Monica where you used to take me. And to the Promenade, and the Library, and walking on the boardwalk. I will tell them about you and about my memories so that they will know you.
I can’t remember if I told you but last summer, I spread a small amount of your remaining ashes off the St Laurence river in Canada, directly across the border from upstate New York. I had held a small hope of being able to make a side trip to New York City, but it wasn’t meant to be and so I didn’t want to return to France with the ashes. This isn’t keeping in the tradition of spreading your ashes to places that meant something to you, but I thought that upstate New York was pretty close. So you have now been buried there, and off the Santa Monica Pier, in the family plot just outside Munich with your mother, and in the shadow of Notre Dame, in the Seine. I still want to scatter a bit off the Vieux Port in Marseille, to commemorate when you left from there for America by boat in 1965, and whenever I get to New York, I’ll scatter a bit there. It might take a lifetime but that’s ok. All the places that marked something in your life.
Then maybe I’ll be able to fully let you go.
This morning at breakfast I showed Son the photos we took when you and tante came to visit when Son was one month old, and we walked in the Bois de Boulogne with the dog. He asked me if you were ever going to come visit. It’s always hard when he asks that. I tell him that you are in heaven now, with the doggie. It feels a bit hypocritical to say that since I don’t know if there’s a heaven, but honestly, for talking with children it feels like the most reassuring thing to say. So that’s what I tell him. Momie is up in heaven now.
They have some caterpillars in their class this year, and a few of them have died, so he slowly understands the concept of death now, although he says “they died, and then they went to the hospital”. So he’s got it a bit backwards. I can tell him that it’s the reverse for you, you went to the hospital, then you died. It makes it easier for him to wrap his head around it, though I know it’s still hard.
I hope that many, many years and decades from now, at the end of my life, once I have watched my grandchildren grow (I hope I am so lucky), that we can sit and have a coffee on a cloud table and talk about everything that has happened. I hope this happens very, very far in the future, not too soon. For the moment, we have a lot of living to do.
Until next year, Mom.