Happy birthday Yia Yia.
You would have been sixty-eight today. Remember last year when we went to hibachi to celebrate you? I love that image of you sitting in the center enveloped in your grandchildren.
I remember that Nikki bought you a ton of to go orders of noodles to take home because it was the only thing that tasted good to you (one of many annoying side effects of chemo) after we tried just about everything on the menu. I remember thinking what a wonderful Yia Yia move that was of her to make sure if there was one thing that you could eat that it would be in abundance. I got you that beach cover up so you could wear it to the Outer Banks. I’m sorry. It seems like a short sighted, not practical gift. I wanted to give you something to look forward to, something with a future, one with sunshine so that you would feel an eternal summer in March. I found it in your closet with the tags still on. I hope it’s okay that I took it home. I hope it’s okay that I wore it in the Outer Banks for you. I wore it in the Dominican Republic for you. I want to pack it with me all over the world so that you can be along for the ride of seeing all the seas and trying all the wine. I hope that’s okay.
I’m still a little angry at chemo. Angrier at cancer. I know that you don’t want to talk about that so we won’t, but I do want to tell you that the other day I asked Niko if he could invent anything at all what would it be and he said a cure for cancer. So I wanted you to know that we are working on it down here. Not that you had any doubt but all of you grandchildren are so bright and brave and beautiful. Lucy dances like she owns the stage. Your fearless bracelet sits on her nightstand and she wears on the days that she needs a little more bravery. The Greek Italian fire burns so bright in Niko and in all of his wit and charm. Just as you predicted, Sophia’s recipe to bring to the world is kindness and what a recipe that is. Micah hugs and holds so tight it feels like he will never let go, so I don’t. I wait for him. They are all filled with so much light, it is a wonder to watch. Every time there is a pink sky we send a kiss above. We know that it is you sending us cotton candy skies. We know it is you watching over us.
I barely cried at your funeral. I think because I was trying to channel all of your ferocity and strength. I wanted my kids to see me stand tall, just like you always did. But sometimes the sad sneaks up on me in the quiet corners of unexpected places, in song lyrics and in the scents of places and appetizers that you used to love. The other day I went to buy a bottle of that amazing wine that we had on your 60th birthday. I went to the same wine store where I was always able to find it for you and they changed the label. I actually started crying in the Spanish wine aisle. How could they do that? We loved the other label. It made me question if it was even the right wine at all. I felt so angry and betrayed by those bunch of wine making jerks. So I’m clearly handling things very well.
I guess that is the thing with love and life and grief. We have to keep going forward. We have to keep showing up. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes we feel blindsided by an avalanche of emotion- the weight of loss, the sight of the empty chair at the table, the joy of having had someone that amazing to miss in this life. I would ask you if you are proud of us but I already know the answer. What a legacy to leave, to live a life so full of passion and love that people wouldn’t even question whether or not you make them proud. We should all strive to live that way.
All of this is to say, I still feel you. And my God, I still love you.
Thank you for the pink skies. Thank you for listening.
Katie’s essay and tangent collection about motherhood, life and imperfection, Happy Broken Crayons is available on Amazon now. Thank you for reading. You are the (queen) bees knees. Happy happy holidays and happy happy new year to you. In setting your hopes for 2018, please think about your word. I can’t wait to hear it. Xoxo
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Katie Yackley Moore is a freelance writer, yoga instructor and a momma of four navigating life and a separation and finding herself in the process. She adores coffee shops, laughing until it hurts and impromptu dance parties. Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Mamalode and HuffPost Parents. She has published a journal entitled “Dream a Bigger Dream” and the children’s books “You Are a Warrior” and “We are Family” and just finished her first novel. Catch up with her between tea breaks at The Naked Momma and on Facebook.