This is my mother. It was taken not long ago by my brother. He often took her and my father out to lunch since he lived nearby. My mother had Alzheimer’s. She was diagnosed in February 2020. She passed away on February 21 this year. I like this picture because her smile is bright and though the disease she fought had taken so much of her by this point, you can still see her intelligence and humor. And there’s a bit of innocence there, too. Like maybe she was already becoming an angel.
I saw her a month ago. She was still awake and still knew me, though communication was difficult by that point. But I could see she knew who I was, and I am grateful for that. I got to hold her hand and even felt her squeeze it a little. I know this is not always the case. I miss her. I’ve missed her for a long time, but now, knowing she won’t wake up and talk to me again one day, it’s different.
My mother taught me to laugh whenever I could, to curse when I had to, to enjoy music and reading, how to clean toilets (although I don’t use that much), that you always vacuum before you dust (again, not something I use much), to clean as you cook, that the beach is a bit of heaven on earth, that fried potatoes and country-style steak are the best food you’ll ever have on this earthly plane, to apologize when you’re wrong, and that loving and protecting your children takes precedence over everything else and doesn’t end just because they’re adults.
Among many other things.
I remember hearing that you’re not truly dead until no one is left to remember you. That’s part of why I’m putting this out there. Tomorrow is her funeral, and I will say goodbye to my mother. But I don’t believe she will truly be gone. Because I will always remember her. And maybe now some of you will, too.
By Michelle Garren-Flye
Let’s say goodbye as many times as you like:
once when I’m lying in bed unable to face the day,
and again when I’m packing my bags,
when you refold my underwear unnecessarily.
We can say goodbye over breakfast toast,
lingering until our coffee turns cold.
Say goodbye to me later
when I get in my car and wait
an extra moment to close the door
so I can see you standing on the front porch
without the glass and metal between us.
Call me later and say it again and again
over the too far away phone line.
Just say it
Don’t ever stop.
one more time.