10 years is such a long time. Sometimes it seems like forever.
I can't remember the way she smelled. I can't really remember her voice. Her image is a little blurry, like I've been staring into the sun, and now my eyes are having a hard time focusing on details.
I remember her movement. Nervous, but graceful. How she would hitch up her pants when they started sliding down on her hips. How she would tilt her head and shrug. How her feet were permanently turned out when she walked, after decades of dancing. The way she would blink when you drew her attention back outside of herself, and whatever she had been pondering. The slightly distracted, welcoming smile when you barged into her room (if the door was open. You knocked if it was closed), and how she would set down her scriptures so she could really focus on you. She was a great listener. She was a great conversationalist.
The nervous way her voice changed when she was talking on the phone, or really anytime she was feeling uncomfortable. Her laugh would get higher, more forced. It wasn't that she didn't think something was funny, she just wasn't in her element.
The way she would grimace whenever she caught sight of herself in the mirror. A former dancer, she didn't have patience for aging, or for her body 5 kids later. If she saw me now, would she be disappointed? I don't think so. But I am the same size she was when she thought she looked ugly. Yet I know she would tell me I look beautiful, and mean it. Why couldn't she say the same for herself?
The family dinners. She cooked every night, and we all gathered around the table. The laughter and conversation that flowed- that is one of my favorite things about growing up in our family. We all connected over dinner. Now that I'm in charge of cooking, I can't imagine how she did it over and over, every single night. Even there she was shy sometimes. But every once in a while, she would chime in with a sarcastic quip that would have us all rolling on the floor with laughter- literally.
One time she threw a roll at my dads head. We were all shocked. It was possibly the most unexpected, hilarious moment of my childhood.
She couldn't sing. Literally could not carry a tune. She was self conscious about it, and barely whispered in church during the hymns. But she really loved to sing, and always wished she could be in a choir. If life was fair, she would have been born with the voice that matched her love of music. Instead she just listened. But with her children? She sang. Our whole childhood she sang. She made us each a song when we were born, and sang it to us every night until we were too big to stop asking.
Man, she loved us kids. We were her world. We were her best friends. Her proudest moments. When I was in a play (just a minor role with 3 lines) she bought tickets to every show. The lead came up to me after, and commented on how it wasn't fair that my bouquet was so much bigger than his. It didn't matter that we were poor, or that it was the 4th time she had seen it that weekend. She was so proud, she couldn't keep it in.
When my little brother was in soccer (ages 3-9), you'd have thought he was the star player from the way his fan section cheered him on. It didn't matter that he scored 3 goals in all those years. She was just so proud.
I wish my memories didn't stop back then. I wish I could be thinking about that time she visited me in college, and we sat up all night talking about a guy I was dating. I wish we could have done a girls weekend trip someplace, just her and her girls. Maybe Vegas? She would have loved to see a show. I wish I could think back on her face when I was trying on wedding dresses. She would have loved every single one, even the ones that looked bad. We would have laughed and laughed. She would have stayed up all night planning with me, and then called the caterer, reception hall, everything for me (with her awkward, forced phone voice), just because I was nervous about doing it. I wish I could remember her on my wedding day. I felt her presence, but there is no image to go with that.
I wish I could think back to Syndil's birth, and see her there. She would have been on that red eye flight with Amber, and they would both have been at my side when Syndil tore her way into this world. I wish I could think about the dozens of trips she has made out to visit us, to see her first daughter's first daughter.
I wish I had these memories.
Ten years is such a long time. She has missed so much.