I didn’t lose her on the day she died.
I lost her again just a few months later, when I gave birth to my first child. Of all the times I needed her, I didn’t have her to hold my hand. I didn’t have her to tell me to breathe, that everything would be okay. I knew from the moment I learned I was pregnant that I may not get to have her in the room with me, but it hits different when she’s really not there. I wasn’t alone that day, but I felt alone.
I lost her at every doctor’s appointment and ultrasound, every ER visit and hospital stay.
I lose her every time I have to fill out emergency contact information, for myself or for the kids. I should put my mom, doesn’t everyone? I don’t get to do that and it’s a painful reminder that I lost her.
I lost her on the first day of kindergarten for my children. I didn’t get to send her pictures and videos, or heck, even have her there to just see that I did it – I kept humans alive long enough to go to school!
Let’s not forget every holiday since then. I lost her when the mashed potatoes were gross and not hers, and when the parade is on Thanksgiving morning… she’s supposed to be in the kitchen while we watch the parade. Don’t get me started on Christmas morning.
I lose her day after day, in random things that don’t make sense to most people but to me they hit hard.
I really lose her when I remember I have no pictures of her with my children, and they never got the privilege to have her in their lives. My daughter would have loved her.
I lose her when my father in law teaches my daughter to cook… I really wish my mom were here so they could work in the kitchen together. Even just once.
But it’s okay, because at the same time I lost her, I found her.
I found her in my baby’s face times 3. That first look into their sweet little faces and I knew she had already held them and kissed them and kept them safe until they were in my arms.
I find her in every yellow rose I see, no matter what day it is or where we are. I don’t always buy them because the next person to come along may need that simple reminder of a loved one too.
I find her in every hummingbird and butterfly, and even the cardinals that stop in our yard frequently in spring.
I find her in TV show reruns and in movies that remind me of her. I can’t skip over Steel Magnolias because it feels like home.
I wish I could find her in old cards and notes, but unfortunate circumstances after her passing caused me to lose all of those physical items. But I have some jewelry, and some photos, and while I wish I had more I could physically see and hold, I have everything inside of me.
So I might have lost her 16 years ago, on October 22, 2004… but after 16 years, she’s still here.