Fall is here, and the crisp air reminds me of you. It reminds me of all the time we spent back-to-school shopping at BP, it reminds me of you leaving work early so you could take us to Office Max for all of our school supplies before dinner, it reminds me of you yelling at us from the yard ("Get out here and help your dad and I rake all these leaves!"). You brought home pumpkins for us to carve and would only let daddy use the carving tools. You worked from home for the first week of school so you would be there when we got home to hear how everything went. You dragged us to high holiday services and told us to hang up our fancy temple clothes. You asked dad to make chili.
Today, the falling leaves take me to different memories that I wish I could forget: flashes of hushed phone calls, a fire truck, a worried neighbor, a crying aunt. Eleven years ago today you slipped away from us while Steph and I slept on the couch. Hours later, I sat in my room alone looking out the window, waiting for Kristen to arrive, watching the leaves fall off the trees. Since then, fall has always brought a bittersweet flood of emotions.
But everything seems harder this year. We went to yizkor services on Yom Kippur, like always. My usually numb reactions abandoned me and were replaced with an hour of slow tears. Your yahrzeit service this past Friday used to be an opportunity for me to respect your memory with a Kaddish and a visit to our family shuel. This time, I was overwhelmed by you. I could hear you singing every song. My heart ached during the Mi Scheberach, which I unsuccessfully sang for you countless times while you were sick. I could barely speak the words of the Kaddish through my tears. I asked Lindsey to drive by our old house and lost it. I see you in every inch of that space.
Getting married makes me miss you more. I feel more like a "grown-up" than I ever have, and I want you here to help me with that. How will I know what it means to be a good wife? How will I know how to be a good mother? It's heartbreaking to picture myself moving through these beautiful milestones without you. I'm so lucky that you chose the partner you did--he shows me every day how to be a patient and supportive parent. But I need you too.
Please make your presence known this year. Give me signs that you're with me at the dress fittings, the vendor meetings, down the aisle and under the chuppah. Please help me stay focused on the marriage and not get caught up in the details of the wedding. Come to me in moments of stress and whisper "Mommy loves you", like you always did. I promise to listen.
I love you forever,
A glossary for the non-Jews:
Yahrzeit: Anniversary of death
Kaddish: A prayer recited in honor of those who have died
Mi Scheberach: A prayer for healing
Chuppah: The canopy a couple is married under