Dear Mom -
One of your favorite people, Senator Ted Kennedy, died today of cancer. Even though it's been twenty three years since cancer took you off this planet, a Kennedy's passing always makes my mind wander back to our days together and the memories of your love for the Kennedy family and ideals.
I remember that day in 1968 when Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated. I was a 7-year-old sleeping in my quiet room in our little house on Arkansas Avenue in Denver. You came in quietly sobbing and sat on the edge of my bed. I woke up to the feel of you pulling me up into your arms, felt you cry quietly into my my hair as you held me tight.
You were beyond broken-hearted. You told me then about the man who you had so believed in, had campaigned endlessly for, and how his life had ended that day. I remember clearly that you believed in the same ideals that the Kennedy's believed in, and how you tirelessly worked towards those same goals as a young woman and mother. You were sure then that my hopes and dreams depended upon the world changing into a better place for everybody.
Mom, you died so long ago that these memories are the only things that I have left of you. I cling to them looking for all the sweetness I can squeeze out of them, hoping to know just a little piece of the long ago heart and soul that you were. My sadness today is that we could have been so good together now, if you were still here.
Tears spill down my face as I think simultaneously about how much I miss your wisdom, friendship, and wit, but also how grateful I feel that today I have survived the cancer that ultimately killed you and Senator Kennedy. I have so much now, Mom, and I am so very grateful. But I don't have you. I feel as though when one of the Kennedy's passes, a little bit more of you passes from me too. Like the whole era of you is slipping away from me.
But I go on, because I have to and because I want to. I have been a strong and able matriarch for many years now. I know you see your granddaughters and they are the lights of your life as they are mine. "You did good!" I hear you say, "WE did good!" You were there too, next to me, through the good and the bad of escorting these two amazing human beings to adulthood. We did it despite cancer, and we did it together Mom, even if you were on the other side. I have the relationship with them that I yearn for with you. I almost have it all.
Today in particular, with the passing of Senator Kennedy, the little girl in me yearns to turn back the hands of time so that I could feel your reassuring arms around me again. I worry about the world for my children and grandchildren just as you did. I don't know how it will all turn out. But I do know you are there and cancer will never break our amazing bond.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I miss you. I love you and am so thankful for you. I will see you again in time, when I am ready.
I Love you, Jen
(The picture is of my 3-year-old Mom, Carolyn Mason Storke Mueser, in 1940)