My tattoo, in memory of my mother.

Today is Memorial Day – a day to remember those who died for our country. I wish so badly that I could look at today in that light. Part of me, especially as a military wife, does see it like that. I appreciate the ultimate sacrifice that some have given for this country, and I remember and honor that. But everything about today is different for me. Today marks one year since my mom and stepdad were killed in a plane crash.

A year since I was woken by a phone call from my brother with news that was incomprehensible to me. A year since I first felt grief and pain I didn’t know could hurt so bad. A year since the person who gave birth to me and had become my best friend left this Earth. A year since a wonderful stepdad who loved my mom so much passed away alongside her. All of this amongst a horrible plane crash that no one ever saw coming. A year ago today.

It’s inconceivable to me that it has been a year. A year of things I would have called her about. A year of my life that she and John missed. A year of things I wish she’d been a part of. My travels – she would have wanted to see every picture I took from Asheville, Alaska, and our trip to Disney earlier this month. More than anything, she would have loved to be at my brother’s wedding in Hawaii. I wish she could have been there to see me finish my Associates. Sure, she saw me graduate (on Mother’s Day, actually), but I still had a summer semester to finish after the accident. I wish I could have called her about my photograph possibly being published in Redbook magazine (still waiting on final news on that). I wish I could have talked to her about my frustrations with photography jobs being so scarce, but not wanting to get a ‘regular job’ because that would only hinder it further. I wish I could have laughed with her about the penis prank war (yeah, that’s right) that we had going with our neighbors. She would have found it hilarious. Come to think of it, I wish John could have heard about that one as well.

A year feels so distant – so final. She and John are just as gone as they were yesterday, but there is something daunting about hitting the year mark. I can no longer say that her life was less than a year ago – that I have real, physical, memories of her in the past year. It gives a sense that the distance will only get further as time passes. I realize that at some point, I will have more memories without her and John, and more time on this Earth without them than I had with them.

It bothers me when people describe grief as something to get over – closure. I will not get over this, and it’s not something I want to get over. Her death will always be a part of me. And I’m okay with that. I accept that it will always be a part of my life. It might not suck me in and take over my every waking moment like it did often this past year, but it will always be there. I will always miss her, and wish that she was still here. It’s not really a depressing thought – if anything it brings me a bit of comfort. It lets me know that no amount of time or happiness will take away my missing her, or the impact she had on my life.

Most of the time I think of her and laugh or smile. I can talk about her and John and easily hold it together. But then there are the moments where I feel like there is no way in the world I can do this. It’s only been a year – how am I supposed to deal with this for the rest of my life? It’s overwhelming to accept that this is my reality and something I have no choice but to deal with, when I want so badly (even a year later) for this to be a nightmare that I can wake from.

I suppose its all normal. The good days, the bad days. It always comes back to some sort of resolve – I will wake up the next day and be okay, even if a bit defeated sometimes. Happiness always makes it back this way.

Whether it’s been one year, 5, or 15 – I will always miss her. Her and John’s death will always be a part of my reality. And that is how it should be.

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11 thoughts on “A Year Later

  1. Rachel – what a wonderful tribute to you, your strength, your love and your thoughtful remembrances of your Mom and John. Everything you say is so true ~ how could it have just been a year ago that they were here and making plans for a trip to see friends, new adventures in their life together, parties, work and a long life of love together with each other and their families?

    Some days it is so hard to grasp that it is not a nightmare and others I know, just as you do, that it is our new reality. Will there ever be a time we don’t think of them, want to call and tell them something funny or serious or just relate our day? Do I still have their emails and phone numbers, yes. Do I still look at Facebook and see if perhaps there might be a message, yes. All that and more.

    But I do have peace with the whole thing as well. I know in my heart that they are together forever watching over us with no pain or heartache or worry. They are where we all want to be in the end ~ they just got there much sooner than any of us expected and were ready to accept.

    So I think about them always, talk to them sometimes and miss them every minute. Your Mom was so proud of you, your accomplishments, your photography, your joy in your marriage, and being your best friend.

    She loved Michael, was forever worried if he would find his way. And he has and is loved and is happy with his journey and she would be so pleased to see him so. I feel sure that she and John were at the wedding watching and giving their blessings.

    They will always be in our hearts…………

  2. Dear Sweet Rachel,

    You never cease to amaze me. Your words, your thoughts, the grace with with you carry yourself, your accomplishments, your strength, everything about you makes me so proud of you. Every time I hug you, I want to hug you harder, but am so afraid you might just break in my arms! Gentle hugs, lol.

    At such a young, tender age, I am sorry you have had to deal with all of this, as I was young when we lost our Mom too and it was the hardest thing to “deal” with. You are so right when you say that this not something that just goes away, just may get a little easier with time.

    So I send you comfort as best as I can thru a little note to you on the wonderful world of the internet.

    Love, Nancy

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