The Functioning Mute


A little over a year ago, when my Daddy’s heart beat its last time, my anger went away along with my desire to write.

I felt that I couldn’t be anything but grateful that he was MY father, mine, for the time I had him.

I realize my mom was right a few months ago when she said to me that she was sorry for how worried I was about her on a regular basis, like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I was.

I would pull into the driveway after work, and sit there for a moment or ten, wondering what I would find when I went in…

Would she have fallen again?

Would she have done something foolish again to prove her independence like climb a ladder to change light bulbs, or lift pots of flowers to re-pot them, or just do too much at one time like trimming shrubs or cleaning the whole house instead of waiting for me and breaking things up…

Would she be in the chair she always sat in, breathing still?

Or not.

I have never seen grief in another like I witnessed from my own mother. It was a huge and living thing that consumed her, and at times, anyone in the room with her.

She did not like this world without my daddy in it.

Neither did I.

But she did try. I am proud of her for that. She did better than any of us thought she would…

or maybe she just put on a good show for us.

I know this is awkward sounding, my voice is rusty from lack of use, as is my heart.

I know these words aren’t beautiful or poetically written and I don’t care.

I have to begin somewhere.

I have always worked so hard to not have regrets when someone is gone. I am always aware due to my own life experiences that the phrase “life is short” is not just a bullshit go to, but a hard, cold fact.

I am going to tell you something right now I have never said aloud in the last 30 days…

Yes, I told my mother I loved her, but I regret her not feeling it from me…

I took care of her when things got tough and emotional, but I regret protecting my own grief and not softening enough to give her the heart she needed…

I made sure she ate, but I regret not sharing more dinners and conversations with her…

I was so proud of her, in awe of her, and I told her in many ways, but I regret not making her feel the reality of it…

I find myself randomly just saying out loud, “Momma…” and crying until I’m sick of myself…

I regret, strangely most of all, the loss of feeling the silky softness of her hair as I brushed it back that last time, the softness of her hand as I held it, the loss of seeing her face when she would see me in the morning and smile.

She just wanted love. She wanted my daddy. She wanted to matter to her children…

She did. She mattered more that any of us knew.

Especially her.

It comforts me in some way that she knows all of this now, but I regret she had to die not knowing that she was the foundation for all of us, the immoveable force, the rock of the family.

She taught me how to get back up no matter what, and my daddy taught us to find the joy in it. That was where they became more than the sum of their parts.

It finally answered for me how two very different people loved each other so well for so long…two wings, one bird, and the flight of a life-time.

I wish I had looked her in the eyes and told her to her face…

I wish I’d shown her as much love as I did care.

There is a difference, and you feel it.

I am so sorry Momma.

I love you.

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