It's been two months since mom passed away, and as time goes by I find it a little bit easier to remember the happier moments we shared prior to her illness. During the first days and weeks, and at odd times even now, quiet moments inevitably brought back sad memories of the months leading up to mom's passing. I'd be driving in to work and find myself crying as I remembered the sadness in her eyes when I arrived for my afternoon visits. My heart would break all over again as I thought back to the tears she shed shortly after the cranial hemorrhage, before the vascular dementia had really taken its hold, when she was aware of the damage wrought by that one event, and how she thought other residents were laughing at her halting and lurching steps as I helped her walk.
Now that the pain isn't so fresh, happier memories are coming back into sharper focus. I look back at old photo albums and try to let those images, captured at happier moments in time, bring me back to the moments of joy and laughter that we shared. For example, her childlike excitement on Christmas mornings when she got to open her gifts from me, especially the year I surprised her with a Dooney & Burke bag she'd been eyeing for months. She was beside herself with joy, because she truly hadn't expected it. Even years later she'd always tell me that that was her favorite bag. One year, after I started working, I took her to Disney World. She'd never been there. I took this photo, and it's one of my favorites of her because of that smile. It's one of the biggest smiles I've ever seen on her face.
I love seeing the devilish grin she's sporting in this photo, as she laughingly sat on a friend's motorcycle. As with most photos of mom, you'll note the cigarette in her hand. Those things were her constant companion. They were a part of who she was, and yet in the end, after having smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for most of her life, she didn't remember them.
In the end, I hope I'll remember it all, good and bad, because it's both which make up a life. Her life. Our life together.