I’m writing to you from camp. Yes, you heard that right. The kid who loves air conditioning, her bed, and her routine is at sleep away camp. It’s a camp for kids who have had a parent or sibling die. I’m here because of you and it has been really powerful. I think my life has changed because of this week. These campers are amazing, so brave and so wise. You would have loved seeing all of the personality, all of the energy and all of the connections that have been made. There is something about being at camp that makes me feel like a kid again. And feeling like a kid again reminds me of you. It reminds me that you were here and also that you are now gone.
I’m writing you this letter knowing I have so much to say and also not knowing where or how to start. I guess I want to start and finish the same way—I miss you deeply and I will love you forever. That is often where I feel stuck between. Stuck between feeling so grateful that you were my mom and so sad because you died. You gave me more in 25 years than some people get in a lifetime, and yet, I will always wish I had more time with you.
You weren’t supposed to get sick. I thought that cancer happens to other people. That losing a parent young happens to someone else. And then it happened to me, it happened to our family.
You should know that we are doing our best to move forward. Dad and Carla do their best to be there and the three of us stick together. We call ourselves Team Giorgio. We keep on fighting for you. We tell ourselves that you would want us to be happy, and yet, it is still really hard. It’s hard to be fully happy when there is always a part of me grieving. Then I feel stuck again. Stuck in between being happy and sad, stuck between wanting to feel strong and also feeling so tired of grieving.
If you were here in your physical body, we’d be talking about all of this on the phone while we recap our days. But you’re not in your body anymore. You’ve moved beyond it. You’re everywhere now. Sometimes I think that when you were alive, your soul, spirit, and energy were stronger than your body. But now it is clear to me that your body had cancer and died but your soul, spirit and energy live on, they soar freely. Your spirit can be everywhere and in everything. Be in both the happy and the sad, the love and the grief.
You always called coincidences or serendipitous events “Godwinks”, so now when we feel your presence, like when I find heart shaped rocks or a penny or when your favorite song comes on the radio when I need you the most, we call them Ninawinks. So now when we see something that connects to you or something really strange and amazing happens, we know you’re giving us a Ninawink. Already at camp, I’ve found three Pennys while walking outside and the first camper I met was named Nina. I think that’s you telling me I am exactly where I need to be.
This is really all just another way for me to say thank you. Thank you for all that you gave me and continue to give me. I have a feeling that you will find a way to be my mom forever, and continue to give to me, even though your body has died.
I am working really hard to be a women you would be proud of. I’m a therapist now. When you died, I was in the middle of grad school. Since then, I’ve finished school and learned so much about myself and how I want to live my life. I missed you at graduation, and missed you when I had big accomplishments. Those moments were happy and sad for me. Through my work I can channel your kind, loving heart, and your words of wisdom can flow out of me. Now I embrace the moments when I think “I sound just like my mother.” People often tell me how I remind them of you, and that I am just like you. I love hearing that and hope to always be my mother’s daughter.
Oh and mom! Guess what? I’m in love. I know, I know, you were right…all of those conversations we had when I’d worry about never having a boyfriend and you’d reassure me that I just haven’t met him yet. Well, I met him. And you would love him. I think you sent him to me. I tell him all about you and it makes me feel happy. And sad. And then I’m in it again. In the in between, in the space where time seems to move so slowly and also fly by. The space where I can feel immense gratitude and also deep heartache. The space where I can feel you all around me and also like you’re slipping right through my fingers.
I don’t think I will ever stop missing you. And that’s okay. That means that I love you and always will. So let that be where I start, and let that be how I finish. I miss you deeply and will love you forever.