Why it occurred to me in the middle of the night, I don't know. That's just how it comes. But it occurred to me that Stephanie looked an awful lot like the Mona Lisa at the end of her short life. She had the tiniest, almost imperceptible smile on her face most of the time, even when she was sad. You really had to look, though, because the smile was so internalized, as though she knew something the rest of the world had missed, a private joke.
Da Vinci could not have created a more cunning, secret smile than Stephanie's.
And so it was that at around 3 a.m., I found myself at the computer, typing this paragraph as the start of a new chapter in the memoir:
She was the Mona Lisa, with her long black hair, parted down the middle, or Liv Tyler in Lord of the Rings. Naturally blonde, Stephanie’s hair hadn’t been that color since her teenage years. (She first dyed it blue when she was twelve.) But at the end, there was that long, glossy black hair, blowing in the slightest breeze. Blowing across her face on the last day I saw her.
I miss her so much lately, with the 2-year anniversary coming up. I'm trying to find a tattoo studio around here that is open on the 3rd. If no one is open on Sunday, I'll have it done Saturday the 2nd, but I'd prefer to have it done the day of her death. Of course, this could be her way of saying, "Mom, I died on the 2nd, and you know it. Do it then." She has the most interesting ways of communicating with me now.
I can feel her close to me sometimes, but other times, she's off doing Stephanie things, enjoying her freedom from worry and pain that she never enjoyed in earthly life. I feel the peace in her, but it doesn't stop me from missing her. I'll always miss her. I will always have these punch-in-the-gut moments when I'm blindsided by the grief. I'll always wonder if I did enough for her. No amount of reassurance and reminders will fix that. Maybe in time, maybe when Sean is off on his own, married, successful, maybe when Tom and Justin are off on their own, married, successful, I'll believe I'm a good mom. Stephanie needed me in a way no one else ever will. My heart hurts that my Mona Lisa girl isn't here to flash that little smile at me, to look into my face with her beautiful blue eyes and say, "Mom? I love you."
Peace - D