Hi, Mom –
Was looking through old photos today – trying to actually develop some pictures that I’ve taken in the past few years, instead of storing them all somewhere in the internet universe – and came across this video. It was a summer visit, when you had just gotten Juno and she was completely wild. (Guess what? Daddy says that Juno is even letting him pet her now – for an extended period of time! Good for them to be finally getting along.) I started watching it, because it’s just labeled “Juno is on a mission: catch the tail” and thought it would be cute and funny and make me smile. I do love that dog a lot and think about her all of the time.
But you’re there, in the video. At the very end you call her over. You say, “Hi, silly baby” a few times, and then Juno walks over to you, and I follow her with the camera, and you’re there. You don’t look at the camera; you just give Juno a pat and then look back at the TV.
I wasn’t ready for that, Mom.
Looking at pictures is okay. I get sad, but it’s like looking at something that’s not real. Not that you aren’t or weren’t real. But it’s like this weird alternate universe of the past in which you existed. I feel really awful saying this, but there’s this picture of me and Daddy and Catherine when we were all in St. Louis, and we’re rolling around on the floor, and I saw it and thought to myself – that’s my family now. Daddy and Catherine and me. The three of us are a family. And that felt normal and right. Is it bad to feel normal and right without you? I guess that’s what’s supposed to happen. It can’t feel bad and weird forever. But it’s almost like that’s just how it’s always been. Maybe it’s easier for my brain to think of it that way. Looking at pictures makes you feel really far away – but far away in the past far away. That video and seeing you move and hearing your voice… it was like you were right next to me. Like, right now, I feel like if I turned around you could be sitting on the futon saying, “Hi, silly baby” or “Hello, Maggie” or anything. And I thought I was forgetting your voice but now I just hear “Hi, silly baby… Hi, silly baby” over and over again and now I hear you saying “Robin… ”
I wanted to call you so bad yesterday. Alex and I have been getting into little tiffs over dumb stuff; we’re both carrying lots of weight right now, and her reaction is to shut down and shut me out, and my reaction is to pick on every little thing that’s out of place. I left to go hang out with Mari and was feeling down. I wanted to ask you what to do, if I need to change or if I need to ask Alex to change, and what compromises are okay in relationships and where you draw the line, and how you stay patient and kind and loving even when you’re stressed… And I didn’t know who else to call, because I realized that you had become the friend that I called when I needed help. I didn’t call Alison, or Eliza or Hannah or Mari, or Kasey, or Miranda or Scott or Ben – or anyone that you would have guessed was my best friend. I called you. And then I started thinking about what a best friend is – the person you can tell anything to, ask anything of, who you can do anything with and have fun, who knows more about you than you know about yourself. And Mom… that’s you. You’re my best friend. I don’t think I’ll ever have another friend like you. And I’m so sorry I didn’t realize that when I could have told you.
So, today I Skyped with Meghan and we both had a good cry and I told her all about it. We’re reconnecting – not that we had ever really been disconnected, but before last week when she called me we probably hadn’t talked on the phone in a year. And now I think she might come to Austin for the summer and stay in our old apartment when we move into our new one. (I’ll tell you all about that once it’s final… we’re waiting to get approved as we speak!) So – lots to look forward to. I keep emphasizing that, Mom, because I don’t want you to be sad for me. I’m doing okay and I’ll keep doing okay because I have lots of people who love me, and even when I’m not doing okay, I really am.
I think for the rest of the afternoon, I’ll take a long, hot shower, make another cup of coffee, and read some more of my book – right now it’s Lonesome Traveler by Jack Kerouac. Hopefully pretty soon I’ll put it down in my notebook and move on, although I don’t know what to read next without your recommendations anymore.
I love you so much, Mamalee. I’ll write again soon.