10 in 31

Good morning mom!

On this day, 21 years ago, you came for a visit while I was at university. You often did. You probably had a meeting at the diocese or something. My childhood memory is such a blur. I think I mix up stories sometimes.
But I do remember you dropping me off at the administration building at the Université de Moncton that afternoon. I had an MBA class. We had gone for lunch at the Graffiti restaurant on Main street. A cute little artsy building we both liked. We sat upstairs, at a little table for two in the corner, daydreaming about how it could be a cute art gallery and studio.

Fast forward about 8 years, I worked there as a waitress; probably subconsciously wanting to relive those moments. Then lost my job, but that moment led me to walking the compostella in Spain with dad; the camino de Santiago. A whole other story.

I don’t remember our conversations that day. I wish I did. It probably wasn’t really important. Just a mother and daughter enjoying each other’s company. I was 22 years old. A young women old enough to have meaningful conversations with her mom. I could finally start getting to know you as an adult, not just a mom. But I was also still too young. I needed you in my life. I still do.

That day, when you dropped me off, I remember you got out the car. Maybe I was driving? I can’t remember. But as you were sitting down again in the driver’s seat, I stopped you and said “wait , wait…”. I ran around the car, gave you a hug and said “merci mam, J’t’aime”. One of the very few times I would have said it. Not because I didn’t or never did. I think we took for granted the time we had together. It was just not in our habit to say I love you to each other. And you loved hugs. I was finally getting over my teenage years of ‘rolling my eyes at mother’s hugs’.

Off I went to my class. I probably didn’t look back. Knowing you, you probably stared at me walking all the way down the sidewalk and up the stairs into the building with admiration of your daughter. You were a daydreamer- a starer. I used to tell you to stop staring at people.

I wish my memory was better. I wish I could remember more of the times we spent together back then. You shared your time with so many people, committees and communities and this and that.

I called for you that night, like I did most nights, to talk about nothing. Your voice was probably comforting. But dad said you had a meeting in Baie Sainte Anne. I didn’t remember telling me you had a meeting- or maybe you did and I didn’t expect you to be back so late. You were involved in too many committees. You were so giving, and people took advantage of your generosity. But you were starting to look after yourself and learned to say no.

When dad told me you were not home, my gut didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel right. A little bit of snow never made me worry. The thoughts were quickly shoved away though. Nothing I could’ve done anyway. Told myself I would talk to you tomorrow. As always. I probably went back to studying for my exams that were coming up. My little bedroom was next to the living room in Napoleon’s house. His room was next to the kitchen, in the back. An old man I helped taking care of during university, in exchange for a room. Studying and reading always put me to sleep. I fell asleep that night, forgetting I tried calling you.

Nap’s voice woke me up. “Janine, it’s for you”. I felt bad that a late phone call for me woke up this frail man. He handed me the phone in a worrisome gesture.
“Janine”, dad’s voice on the other side of the line, “mom had a car accident”.

On this day, 21 years ago, you left us, suddenly. No goodbyes, no warnings. In just a flash, all those moments that were taken for granted, not to be lived again. No second chance.
Dad came to pick me up in the middle of the night. Guess he didn’t want to leave me alone, nor did he want to be alone. Night, day, exams, university, work, friends, meeting, committees, inane conversations, the fresh snow on the road… nothing mattered. You were no longer. Nothing else mattered.

You left too soon. I wanted more. I was still too young, you were too young.

I wear hats, like you did mom. I love hugs as much as you did. I daydream and stare more than you ever did. I talk to myself and sing out loud when I’m gardening, I hum to classical music, like you did. I paint, like you. We have different styles, but several told me they see similar strokes in the paintings. Is that you in my hands?

I know you live around me and in me, but I miss you.

The artist

I love you mom.

2 thoughts on “10 in 31

  1. This is so beautiful. I knew your mom growing up, I went to school with her, she was a beautiful lady. You are an amazing artist. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

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