Dear Little Mama,
It’s been almost six months without you; most days it doesn’t feel real. I still get the urge to call you almost every day. I don’t know if the finality of you being gone will ever fully register with me. You left us so quickly. So I’m writing you this letter, because there are things that I want you to know.
I want you to know that we’re doing okay. You would be so proud of Dad and Samuel especially. Dad’s keeping the house spotless; I think he does even more laundry than you did. Samuel’s keeping his grades up and staying really involved in school and with his friends. We’re all impressed.
Olivia and Jeb’s wedding was beautiful and sweet. We were all thinking of you, but I’m sure you were there. Speaking of young couples: I met someone. Actually, he and I had just started talking the week before we found out you were sick. I wouldn’t have expected a senior in college to want to start seriously dating a girl after finding out her mom just died, but he stuck around. He went with me to the wedding, and everyone in the family loved him. If you want to know a secret, I love him too. He’s been there for me through countless breakdowns the past six months, and he’s shown me nothing but patience and kindness. I really wish he could have met you; I think you definitely would have approved.
I want you to know that I’m still managing to be happy, even though I’ve now gone through the worst thing I could have ever imagined. I decided not to go to med school—I hope you’re not too disappointed. I’m not sure what I’m going to do just yet. Maybe law, maybe teaching. Maybe something else entirely. But I know I’m going to make it, because you raised me to work hard and believe in myself. Now I know that I have you watching over me no matter what.
I want you to know I’m taking care of myself. I started going to counseling and taking medicine for my anxiety. I’m spending time with friends and doing well in school. I have a new job with an amazing boss. I’m living a life you would have wanted me to live, and I’m proud to be able to say that.
I want you to know that the holidays aren’t the same, but they’re going the way you always wanted: no fighting or drama. I’m sorry it took us this long to manage that. We just had Thanksgiving, and even though we missed your special fancy turkey garnishes and sweet potato casserole, we were still able to gather together and have a good time. Zachary and Marissa did an amazing job hosting it. We’re all doing our best to carry on your legacy. Your sisters are doing a great job of being there for us all. I’m glad Grandma and Grandpa didn’t use birth control and popped out so many amazing girls who share the same genes as my sweet mama.
Everyone who knew you feels the weight of losing you. Did you know that so many people came to your funeral that we had to use the high school auditorium? Your students miss you; no one could ever take your place in those schools. I’m so proud to be able to call you my mother. You managed to do what we all hope to do before we die: touch lives. When anyone talks about you, they always say there’s no one else like Meg Gatten.
This has gone on way too long, so I guess I should finish up. Before I go, I want you to know that I’m thankful to have a voicemail of you saying you love me. I’m thankful to have a card you wrote, telling me that you’re proud of who I have grown up to be. I’m thankful that one of the last things you said to me was that you love seeing your kids all grown up and becoming one of our friends. I’m thankful for your hot chocolate recipe. I’m thankful that I got your eyes and your nice round booty. I love you, Mama. You’re still my best friend.
“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart).”