...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

Dear Mom
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Dear Mom,

I don't write to you too often, do I? The fact is that I don't believe in an afterilfe, or a heaven, and you've been gone - dead - five years. But I thought I'd say this anyway.

You seem to have built me stronger than either of us realized. You were, often, far too strong. You were so so damn hard on yourself, you wouldn't allow yourself any weaknesses. I see that in most people -- that we are harder on ourselves and forgive so much shit in other people. You forgave so much shit from me. Not always, and frankly, you were sometimes really pissed off about the wrong thing. Often you were really understanding when I didn't think you would be. But I'm okay. I want to say "I'm more than okay" because that's what you want to tell your parents after they leave you to fend for yourself, but right now, let's go with okay. Okay?

I'm having a real hard time. I don't know if it's because there is a tendency in our family toward depression. I watched you battle serious depression for most of your life. It was, I knew often only in retrospect, how bad it was. I've dealt with depression - not just sadness but depression - but until last year, I knew, or assumed, it would pass. I am much less sure of that now. I get far too well what you, and certain other people in my life were and are going through. And I know what you, and certain other people in my life, did to fight it.

I'm doing what I can. I'm taking antidepressants which have helped in the past. I'm seeing a therapist. We began talking about grief, but it's oh so very much more, because the disability has really kicked in and whooboy, I knew that worried you a lot. I'm taking vitamins, trying to eat and I'm sleeping - either not nearly enough or, yeah, well, way too much.

There are other things I'm not doing and I'm peeved at myself for feeling apologetic or defensive about them. I don't go out much and I don't want to. Taking long walks stopped being something useful to me somewhere in my 20s or 30s. Today I don't walk at all and the equivalent is not there. There is no equivalent since there's no good path to take when you use a power wheelchair and you want to meander and be slow and deliberate and not mind the weather or the rain. Even when the chair's batteries are working well.

Exercise. I can't. I simply cannot risk losing the limited ability/mobility that is left to me. If I had to have some sort of surgery, I'd have to recover in a nursing facility. Depending on the kind of surgery, that's so risky I won't think about it. I hope that makes sense to you. It doesn't seem to to most people because surgery - in their minds (and in the minds of most surgeons) fixes the problem.

I miss Stu so much, so fiercely, so astonishingly strongly. He died in November of 2014. It's 14 months later and it hurts so much, it's difficult to describe or comprehend. We - he and I - always felt lucky to have found each other and said so. Often and honestly. The 1,037,586 things I miss every fucking's so difficult to comprehend, impossible to explain. And I think that most people cannot or do not or will not get it. That yeah, I loved him but, isn't it starting to be enough, to ease? I feel, although I hasten to say this, that no one has told me so, that I am not recovering fast enough. That I'm being dramatic and dragging out this mourning. That I could, if I pushed myself, do the things that I find it near-to-impossible to do. It should not be that hard to pick up the phone. It should not be that hard to go hang out with people (if I can get into the building, oh yeah). No one says it. I feel it.

Can I tell you something, Mom? There is stuff that makes me smile, yes. There is stuff that makes me giggle, and think such good thoughts and remember so much with pleasure and love. Mom? One of those things remains "11:11". I still think of you whenever I see that time on the clock(s). Several of the clocks here seem to be having a disagreement on what time it actually is in what room. But last night, when two of the kitchen devices read "11:11", it made me smile. I love you too, Mom. Thanks.

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