Three years ago today was the worst day of my life. My mother died. I wasn't there, so I'll never know first-hand what it was like to see her pass into eternity, and part of me feels cheated that I wasn't present and another part of me feels fortunate that she was alive in my last memory of her.
As I said on her birthday, losing your mother isn't something you get over -- ever. It's not a sadness that dulls with time. The sadness is always there -- it's just a matter of degrees. Today was difficult. I felt on the verge of tears so many times and finally just let them fall while talking to Mami's very best friend Cacha -- a friend she literally knew her entire life, because Mami's mother and Cacha's had met and befriended each other before they had children.
Cacha told me, once again, that Mami was special. That even as a teenager she was so popular every body wanted to be her friend or just plain be her. She was the proverbial life of the party -- the girl all the young private-school boys wanted to dance with -- just once. When my mother eloped with my father -- a medical student who was below her social station -- her friends weren't scandalized, they thought it was fitting for a young woman as fiery as my mother.
My mother wasn't rich or pioneering or particularly intellectual. She didn't quote poetry or perform great works of charity. She rarely wrote much, except for the occasional letter. She never quite got the hang of budgeting or housekeeping or of loving without criticism. She had backward double standards about what was "men's work" and what was "women's work," and she thought married women should consider every other woman in the world a potential threat to her marriage. She thought I should greet my husband with full makeup and a smile, not yoga pants and a frazzled look of relief.
But... she was an amazing woman all the same. She had this fiery spirit that could not be contained. She had a full smile that could be fake to those she didn't care for (and I would be lying if I said she loved everyone she met, because she didn't), but when it was genuine her smile glowed. She had this loud, bordering-on-cackle laugh, and a terrible singing voice that she would belt out whenever she damn pleased. She didn't love to cook but could make a mean picadillo, lasagna, and a bunch of typical Colombian dishes that reminded her of home.
And you know that super sappy Lee Ann Womack song, "I Hope You Dance"? My mother danced. She danced plenty -- whenever she got the chance.
So I have no physical inheritance to speak of, but I had a mother who danced and made people notice and remember and miss her and want to be her friend for 60+ years. She had a first boyfriend who called her on her very last birthday and sang on her voicemail. She wasn't perfect, but there's no such thing.
She was so, so beautiful, flaws and all, and I hope that I can live the kind of life that's worthy of being her daughter.