It has been 2 months since we lost you. Liz got married on Saturday night, and we were there (you rsvp'd yes, and ordered the sirloin), me and Kevin and Petey and Davey. Petey wore his hat, which you wouldn't have been happy with, but it was his fancy hat, which makes it better. When we got home from the wedding, to our house, to our house that you lived in and died in, I had this email waiting for me:
Are you THE Leigh Batnick...
…who was a sweet & lovely 5th grader at Lakeside Elementary in Merrick in 1989-90? I suspect it must be you, as your writing is as deep & graceful & magical now as it was then. I came upon your blog just now, and am so very sorry for your loss.
Of all things, I remember your mom’s signature on your report cards & absence notes. She had happy handwriting!
My deepest condolences to you & your family; my heart goes out to you.
Christine aka "Ms. Wicks"
Mom, you remember Ms. Wicks! She was my favorite teacher, her, and Dr. Isaacs (he understood me before I did). The thing is, I haven't exchanged a word with her in 21 years and she emailed me precisely at the moment that I was toasting Liz and Liz and I met in her classroom. In my toast, I quoted from the letter Liz wrote you on June 5th, and in that letter she spoke about Ms. Wicks.
Mom, I know you already know this. I haven't written back to Ms. Wicks yet, because I'm waiting to understand; I spend my days waiting to understand. Liz, who knows deep loss from the its eddy, wrote to me:
...Although I know you do not feel connected to your sadness, rest assure, you are at a kind of magical stage of subconscious connection. She is speaking through your heart, mind and pen (or rather, your laptop). Sadness will roll in with the tides of mundane memories, with holidays, with realizations about the lack of phone calls. Unfortunately, it will eventually come. But for now, know that the unexpected thing about loss is a strange super-powered infusion of love that you gain from the person that you lost. It is almost like a shield that they give us for our hearts. And that shield is made up of the energy created by the POWER of your connection to them. Some may call it denial or shock, but really, I think it is the protection given from our beloved, the one who knows that our fragile hearts can only take so much at a time... Lest they break in two. And that is the last thing that they would ever want to happen...
I spoke to Ray-Ray tonight, and she told me that Jane asked you before you died, as best friends can, "How will I know you are with us?" and you answered "You will know. There will be no doubt about it." When Jane opened the library the first morning she went back after you died (you loved little ladies and librarians who loved pink wine), 3 computers were on but the main computer, the host, was off. No one was there, the computers are turned off every night, religiously, and she knew. It was you. The mother-ship was dark, but still, she lit her 3 children.
Mom, you light your 3 children. I think about what I did not ask you; I did not know you were afraid of heights. Petey told me when you went on the ski gondolas out West, you hovered over desert and prairie, canyons and brush, and your hands tightly gripped the sides. I am afraid of heights, too, or of precipices, more specifically, and I couldn't breathe as we ascended the Eiffel Tower, so down quickly we went. I never knew you were afraid of anything, except what could hurt your children. You are fearless to me. You feared not death, you feared not life.
Mom, your heart has stopped, I heard your last breath, but your heart made mine, and now Liz tells me, that you cradle my broken heart. Please, come to me. Be with me in dreams. Michael dreamed of you, dead, but re-animated, and I am so jealous. In his dream, you told the three of us that Petey took good care of you, and when he told me about his dream I said, "You're right, he did" and Michael gasped, for I had said exactly the same thing in his dream. My girl, be with me in a dream. Tell me what I know (but the knowing is hard, and it's not the same as your voice telling me, kissing me, nuzzling your head into my neck - you are short!) you would say if you were here. Tell me that you love me, tell me that I am the daughter, the person, you hoped I would be.
Mom, I fear not the night or a great height. You are with me, you are in me, you are all around me. I love you, my girl, and I love my brothers and we talk to our uncles and I will be better about calling your friends (my friends) and seeing Poppy. You have taught me how to live, and I want to be my mother's daughter. There was no one better than you, my mother.
Tuck me in, and slowly tell each part of my body to rest, to exhale from my tiniest toe, to the tip of my head, like you did when I was small.
I love you, I love you, I love you and this is not good night, for maybe I will see you tonight.