Biennale is an Italian term for “every two years”.

It’s funny how things like this crop up into my vision every now and then. It’s fitting then that I saw this today.

Today, two short, crazy years ago, was the last day I spent with you. I got to witness my daughter climbing into bed with you, laughing. I got to read her a story with you. We spoke, all day. We watched the sun set from a window together. We laughed, you made me promise you a few things (and I’ve followed through on them, for a change, most uncharacteristic of me…) and I watched you sleep.

As life was slipping away from you, your hair turned blond and your smile weakened. It had been weakening for a while but I saw its final descent that day.

It’s funny how life turns you on your head. Where you go from being the child to the adult and then from the adult to the child. You raised three ridiculously opinionated, hard-working and stubborn children. You did that whilst trying to liberate a nation and you did that whilst living in fear. You did that in love, with love and through love.

You spent your time after dad died being there for animals who had met harm. You wrote. You loved, still, even though you were convinced your heart died sometime in July 2005.

I’m not getting better at these personal anniversaries. In some respects, I’m getting worse. They bubble up and hit me in the face when I don’t pay them attention. And when I do turn my head towards them, I find myself calmer now. Perhaps this is the process of assimilation that happens when you lose your parents. You never, ever get over it. It just becomes a part of you. Slowly, still, it becomes a part of me. My crazy urges to just pick up the phone and call you are receding. My freakish mind tricks of thinking “my mom must know about this! must tell her!” are passing. I’m learning to accept the loss of you, but I’ll never heal from it. It’s a hole that lives with me, and I expect nobody to understand it unless they’ve lost their mum too.

It’s funny though, mum. You said I should always be open with my thoughts. So I do and I try. So, here I am, being open with them.

You would’ve loved Adele. She’s this global clever musical phenomenon, who is a bit on the chubby side and ridiculously good. You would have enjoyed her music. Not everyone does, and the radio stations have – of course! – played her tracks to death. But, I somehow think you would’ve sung along to it. You’d have loved Josh Krajcik with me and then giggled with me over types. And only you’d understand what I just said…

You would have laughed with me at those moments where I found you in my parenting. Moreover, I’d have pointed out the moments where I saw you in my kid. She’s seven in a few weeks. Considering I distinctly remember my seventh birthday, this is a scary phenomenon. I’d have made you marvel with me over her reading, her art and bored you with the stories of how well-behaved she is.

I’ve wished for you at dinner the most. I’ve wished for you when I’ve felt adrift, hurt or confused. I’d have spoken my brain out with you. I’d have made you cry with me. But it’s funny mum, the thing that makes me cry the most is the missing you in the happiest moments. As you’d say, life is indeed like that.

This is the part where we’d giggle about how I was alarmed by how noisy my home sometimes gets. Hah. Yep. You were right. It’s the noise of family, you said. You’ll start loving it and never be able to function without it again. I scornfully stared at you then, but oh how very, very right you were. I laugh at myself now, muttering over the noise sometimes. You were so right, and yet that noise is the comfortable soundtrack of my life now.

There are new things, new experiences, new fads and methods and perspectives. I hope I’ve grown, mom. I think I have. But I know I’ll never grow away from you.

In fact, as life goes forward, I see myself growing more towards you. You told me this would happen. You told me to expect this. You laughed and said “wait for it”. And I did and it’s here.

I grow towards the strong tree you nurtured and pruned when it was appropriate. Your excellent gardening skills were not just for the plants in pots. They were the same ones you applied to the tree of life. I lean against that tree you grew for me, for us, every day.

Thank you for this gnarly bark I run my hands against, every day. It’s that tree I lean against, sit under for shade from life’s sun when I need a rest. It’s that tree I climb when I when I want to run away. It’s that tree I climb when I need to stop and take a look around me.

As this tree grows and leans and waves its branches in the wind, I remember with every new leaf, that you and dad planted it. Smile mum, because that tree grows every day.

And, because I know you’d know why, here’s my song for today. Miss you, every day. Wouldn’t it be loverly, indeed…


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