It was Thursday night. We had just dropped K off at her soccer practice and I was driving home with Liv. I don’t remember exactly how we got on the topic but she told me that last year she cried at the Remembrance Day assembly at her school. I asked her, “Were you feeling sad?”
She said, “yes.”
Then she said, “I wish Jenny Popo was still alive.”
Jenny Popo is my mom. They used to just call her Popo. J’s mom goes by Popo too but they didn’t see her often then so it was easy to differentiate. Now that my mom is gone, we have gotten used to adding her name.
I glanced into the rearview mirror. It was dark and I could not see much, but I could still sense her broken heart.
“Do you remember when she used to take care of you?”
“Remember when she used to make you noodles and tie your 5 strands of hair up?”
Liv let out a softened chuckled. “Yeah.”
Then she said, “I wish she didn’t have owies. I wish she was healthy and she was here.”
My heart ached. My nose burned to tell me tears were coming.
My mom died from Stage 4 colon cancer when Liv was just two years old. We had told the girls that Popo died from owies in her tummy area. I had tried to explain it again last year with more scientific words but Liv still calls it ‘owies’. K has a bit more understanding of it.
I’m glad Liv remembers the memories that feel good and the ones that don’t feel so good. Because it’s important to feel both.
I avoid bad stuff. I never truly understood my tendency to do this until our family was confronted with my mom being sick. When it comes to my mom’s memory, my brain has blocked out all the things that cause hurt. All I’m left are happy memories but I still feel hurt. I cannot recall much in her final year. I have one photo I took of J reading a book to her at the hospice and that was the final photo. And it still lives on my camera roll. I haven’t deleted it and I am not sure why. Maybe because it will hurt more. And I’m just not ready for that.
I still do this.
I still do this. Avoid things that cause hurt. This year, I have slowly allowed myself to feel just a little bit more of it – but I am in no way as strong as Liv. She is showing me that it is okay to remember the hurt. To feel the pain. I’m so grateful she shares her strength with me.
And that was my conversation with Liv.