When I clung to your frail arms and told you it was okay to let go, I really wanted to beg you to stay. When I sat beside your bed and gazed into your eyes while yours peered around the room uncontrollably, I told you we'd all be okay. I really wanted to weep and tell you I was lying.
When we got your diagnosis and I said you'd beat it, I didn't believe my own words. When people asked me if my mom was dying, I just said you were sick. "Cancer" was too final. Too life shattering. Too not supposed to happen to the one person I couldn't live without. Turns out, I can live without you, it just makes for a life I never saw lasting this long.
When your babies asked me if you were coming back, I was brave but I really wanted to cry along with them. When I meet new people and people ask about my parents, I always get the "Oh. I'm sorry." I'm sorry too.
When I think about my life, my happiest moments have still been with you. It doesn't mean I haven't been happy in the 16 years since you died, it just means that of all the spectacular moments I've had in my 31 years, the ordinary ones with you shine brighter than any of the spectacular ones I've had without you.
When I tell people I miss you, what I really mean is I have never known a loneliness so crippling. Living life makes me feel like a fraud. How can I let myself laugh and smile when you were crushed by cancer?
When you could no longer speak and I spoke for both of us, I pretended we were strong and that you dying wasn't going to be the source of constant pain for the rest of my life. Each day the sun rises and sets and I say goodnight to another day full of everything except you - the very thing I want most.
These are the things I wanted to say while you were dying and I was falling apart.
This is what I wanted to say to my mom when I was a young girl and she was dying of cancer. You say the things you need to say when it matters most. So, on the 16th anniversary of her death I'm taking a step toward saying the things I've wanted to say for so long.
I miss you.