With a long pony tail high on her head, a pressed white cotton coat and a clipboard. This is how I imagined Emma the other day. She is standing in a patient exam room, a full-fledged physician’s assistant, which is the career she is working toward. In this no-way scenario, I can’t talk to her because I am dead.
I’ve thought about death and missing weddings and childbirth, but never that we wouldn’t be able to talk to each other someday. That’s crazy, and I won’t allow it. Since I don’t believe the dead communicate with us through the ether, I decided to commit to a practical plan. I am going to write letters to my daughter, everything I think Emma might want to hear and know after I die. It’s verbal life insurance.
When your mom leaves you, you miss everything from the scent of her perfume to her smile. I remember walking into my mom’s closet the day after she died and thinking it wasn’t possible because I could smell her on everything. Her wigs were sitting in a row on their Styrofoam heads waiting for her. She couldn’t make plans for us to talk forever because she died in a car accident. I wish she could tell my children the stories I tell them about her.
Emma and I pass advice back and forth like the tides. Everything from clothing to dealing with an ultra-conservative sorority sister. We text and talk on the phone regularly. How will we continue when I die? In letters. I’ll put some in a box, hide some, and give some to my husband Mark to share. They will be for her benefit and mine in equal measure. I want her to always have her mom, and I want to make sure I can be her mom forever.
I don’t know when I’ll die, but I want to plan now for the life of her heart and for all the conversations about mundane things that collect to become a marker for your identity. My mom’s birthday is in a week. I would do anything for a letter. I am fortunate beyond words that I can give Emma a book.