I got this letter back in 2005 when I graduated from college. It's dated August 24, 1989, and it's written by my mother commemorating my first day of first grade. And I can be honest and say I hadn't looked at that letter from that graduation day until March, when I moved back to SC and started this "new phase" of my life to be a writer, or at the very least a professional wordsmith. When I opened this letter, the first thing I noticed was my mother had beautiful handwriting. And then...the letter was twenty years old, and I wondered where the hell twenty years went. Then the fact I wanted to know what she was thinking when she wrote it...what she imagined for me and my sister even as she sent me skipping on to first grade. And I wondered if she would be happy and proud of me, proud of my sister, and wishing she were here to say so. I also noted she was probably triply emotional because only two days prior had been her birthday, and who knew three years later she'd be dead.
"Marching off to another era" is what she'd said of my six-year-old self. Twenty years later I'm doing the same; instead of her crying this time, it's I. But I can't run from her arms like I no doubt did going to my first-grade class; or run into them like I did after that first day of school. And then my sister never got the opportunity, and how just...unfair that is. But here we are, her two baby girls marching, one of us wondering if she'll ever get to that destination she's had her eye on since junior year in high school, and the other still looking at the map to figure out where she wants to go. But hopefully Mama's marching with us. Hopefully we'll march as fiercely as she did, the majorette she was, as regally as she did, as beautifully as she did.
The letter is hanging on my wall, the only thing hanging on my wall in my bedroom. And I read the words she said to me 20 years ago. And I love her and I miss her.
I'd wished my sister a happy birthday on Mommy's birthday, because without hers we certainly wouldn't have ours.
Mommy would've been 59...I think she wouldn't have looked a day over 39. And apparently she passed that gene onto my sis and me, because I'm really not at that age where I can appreciate being thought of as still in high school when I've so been there and done that!