This photo of Mama was taken in April 2012, at my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah, a year before she died.
It cuts me how impossible it is that she is dead now, that she died a year after this photo was taken. Despite the bald head, or even because of it (she looks so strikingly beautiful with her bald head), she is so alive here. She was a bit weak, yes, couldn’t stay up too late at the party. But we danced. We swam in the hotel pool. We put on red lipstick.
But it also cuts me how we knew, a little bit, and maybe unconsciously, that our time was limited. I had this constant pain just above my stomach from her fist cancer diagnosis in 2007 until she died in 2013. A tiny pain, subtle and not always noticeable, a tight knot. For three months in 2010 everything I ate made me sick. I went to a doctor about it and she told me nothing was physically wrong.
It’s still a shock most mornings, that she is not here. Sometimes she is alive in my dreams and everything is normal. In these dreams she has been sick but recovered and I feel such great relief that she is okay. Then I wake up.
Giles doesn’t get to know her except in stories. This is a huge gap, a thing he is missing and will be missing his whole life. She would have been a wonderful grandmother (Meme, as she wanted to be called), a great friend, a huge presence for him.
I’ve always said I have no regrets. Mostly this is true. But there are some living in my shadow, in the back corners of my brain.
I’m angry. I’m also sad, scared, some other feelings I don’t know how to name.
It doesn’t get better. It will never be better. It will just be life. Good and bad at the same time. Heartbreak and joy.
I don’t know what else to say. I have a lot of things to say.