Out of all the days that my mom had to die, it had to be on the first day of summer. June 21st: the same day that is looked upon with optimism for the new season is the same day that began a lifetime of grief. Sometimes, I think that the universe conspired to make this sick joke against me.
Today makes it 18 years since she passed away. Yet the last time I cried over losing her was only 4 days ago. Some might be surprised that tears can still shed so long after someone dies. However, grief, no matter how far long the journey, never guarantees dry wells.
While I was mourning the fact that she was no longer with me, the focal point of this moment wasn’t her physical absence. My mom already died but I feel like she’s dying again, this time in my memory.
I realized that I don’t remember what she sounds like. And that scared me.
In a hurried panic, I’m writing about her again to keep her alive. That’s what I do when talking to confidants aren’t enough: as if it’s second nature, I write it out. But though these words continue to imprint her existence on my heart, it’s the details of her speaking voice that have begun to fade. It makes me feel guilty and afraid: guilty because I feel like I have betrayed her for not being wholly remembered and afraid because I don’t want to lose her a second time.
While I cried, I forgot about the wedding between my mom and my dad recorded on VHS tape and how her voice is heard exchanging vows with my dad. But now, it finally hit me and I breathe something like a sigh of relief. I can ask Dad for the tape, bring my notebook with me, and write down what her voice sounds like, I think to myself. My heart is finally calm. I can rest a little easier.
I can finally put a speaking voice to the fierce tigress of a woman that I call my mother. I can see how her vocal chords transforms her speaking voice into her mezzo soprano singing voice, calling to mind the memorized gospel lyrics she wrote with my dad. I can regain the piece of her that I thought I lost forever. It’s only a request away. She can and will be wholly remembered.
And if I end up losing access to that video after watching it for some reason, I can refer to the description of it that will bring her voice back to life, forever etching it in my memory. I refuse to let her die again.