This weekend we celebrated the one year anniversary of Ama’s death. Actually, I’m not sure celebrated is the right word. Perhaps, acknowledged would be better.
We gathered in a circle and spread her ashes. We listened to some words she had written not long before she died. We cried a little and hugged a little and watched the kids run off to play hide and seek, excited to have a day with their cousins.
I love that they can seek out a hug of reassurance and yell, “not it!” all in the same breath.
A year has gone by and we continue to miss her. I think of all the milestones she would have loved to have witnessed: a first year of college, a first year of All-Star baseball, a school trip to Florida, a first year of middle school, a first cycling season, a trip to YMCA nationals for swimming…the list goes on.
I no longer feel devastated by this loss. Instead, it feels like it has become woven into the fabric of who I am. Golden threads that glint with memory, dark hues imbued with depth.
I am grateful for what her journey has given me. I still feel sadness, too.
It’s not just this year’s milestones that she will have missed. She is going to keep on missing them. And that’s exactly why she didn’t want it to be her time to die.
I hold onto the notion that Ama is still part of our experience – only she’s on the inside now.
Perhaps by writing it, I will it to be true.
Because there are times when I feel overcome by a sense of loss and worry that her voice in my head will start to grow quieter and the memories will begin to blur.
And so I conjure her memory as I go through my day - remembering how much she loved the sedum in our front garden for it’s unusual hue, seeing her playfully squished up face in reaction to the dirty feet of little boys traipsing through the house, hearing her laugh at her own forgetfulness, watching her snuggle up so expertly on the couch with anyone looking for a quiet moment.
When someone embraces life so fully, it’s impossible not to let your own heart fill up in response. And that is exactly the gift she has given me. A hundred times over.
Perhaps celebrated is the right word after all.
Judy Carrithers Concemi
Dec. 3, 1943 - Sept. 4, 2015