Dear Mom,

I don’t even know where to begin.

It’s been 19 years since you passed away.

Most days when I think about you, everything is fine. People can ask me about you and I tell them the facts. No emotions involved: My mom’s name was Laura; she had breast cancer; she passed away shortly after I was born; she was tall and blonde just like me; I am named after her. I can list it all.

Other days, I get really sad, but in my mind, it doesn’t make sense for me to get upset. I feel like it is wrong for me to be sad. We barely knew each other. I was only around for 18 months of your life, all of which you spent in the hospital. Months I will never remember. You’re practically a stranger to me. I attempt to swallow my emotions, but I end up in tears.

Sometimes it makes me mad. It seems so unfair that I never got to know you and that you were taken from our family so early.

Some days are harder than others, but why do I feel like I struggle with sadness more than my older sisters? Is it because they are comforted by the memories they have of you? Is it because they were old enough to understand what was happening when you were sick?

I don’t understand why I struggle with so many emotions when I barely knew you. All I know is that I wish I had the chance.

I wish I had the chance to know you.

From what I’ve been told, you were incredible. People who knew you have reached out to me, telling me stories about you. They would tell me how you were loving, kind, considerate, selfless and joyful. I’ve heard that even when you were in the hospital, you sent flowers to your friends, always thinking of others first. I wish I could have grown up learning from you and following your example. I wish I could be just like you.

I wish I had the chance to make memories with you.

The only memories I have of you belong to others. Stories they have shared with me. It seems unfair that I was left with no memories of my own. I wish I could think back to the times we shared together. But I don’t and that has been hard on me.

I rarely hear my dad or my sisters talk about you. I know they struggle with their feelings too, so I am scared to talk to them about you. I don’t want to make them upset, but I wish I could hear their memories of you so I could remember you like they do.

I wish I had the chance to talk to you.

I wish we could talk and catch up for hours, like two old friends who haven’t seen each other in a while. I want to hear your voice. I want to hear about your life, what you were passionate about, what your favorite things were, what you struggled with when you were my age. I want to hear every piece of advice you have for me. I want to hear how you and dad met and fell in love.

I want to tell you about my life and what I’ve learned. I want to know if you would be proud of me. I want to be friends.

I know that life is unfair sometimes and things happen with no explanation as to why, but it doesn’t make it any easier accepting things without questioning them. I know I’ll never understand why I did not get much time with you. All I know is that I wish I had the chance.

If I had the Chance
Photo Credit: Laura Grace Pustmueller

Photo Credit: Laura Grace Pustmueller