Sunday, March 28, 2010


Last month I had lunch with someone I don't see often. The time before was at Maura's funeral.
"How long has it been since Maura died. Two years? Three?" she asked.
"Nine months." I said.
"No, I mean, since she died."
"Nine months. It's been just nine months."
I felt something between panic and anger.

A few weeks prior, in early February, Tim launched his album. I couldn't go to the release concert, but Kara told me that prior to his singing Starfish and Coffee, he talked about Maura, and how he had sung this song at her bedside just two days before she died about a year ago.
"What?" I think I looked astonished.
"Yes, Erin, it's coming up on a year."
Again-- panic, irritation, confusion.
"It hasn't been a year. It's not even nine months. It's still not even nine months!"

I don't want time to pass, taking me farther away from Maura, from the last time I held her. The last time she stood up--was it the night before she died? Two nights? I don't know. But she wanted to take a walk in the middle of the night. It took all my strength to lift and support her, as her arms and whole body draped around me. There were others in the room who helped lift her to me. She got to the edge of the bed, then, feet barely brushing the floor, and all her weight pressed against mine, she stood.
"Okay." she whispered.
"Did you walk enough? "
And I laid her back in her bed.
I will never forget that sweetest of hugs.

I often wonder if I am stuck in time, unwilling to heal or move forward. Move forward...what does that mean, anyway? My life is forever changed. I'm not moving backward. It's all just different. But Maura died at an age and a time when she was on the brink of adventure. And so were her friends. I see them moving forward in such dramatic ways, it's no wonder that nine or ten months ago seems far away to them with so much life stuffed in the cracks. Matt and Kara are teaching English in Korea. Amanda and Scott are having a baby. Mary and Sean got married and moved to Arizona. Adam is teaching and will go to grad school in Colorado. Chelsea is studying in France. David is singing opera and planning grad school. Several have begun teaching careers. Several continuing their studies around the country. I enjoy hearing about their lives. I stalk them on facebook.
I admit that I weirdly welcome the sadness, the grief, the overwhelming emotion because I can say, ah, yes, it has not been too long since she died. I held her just a little while ago. I remember her. She is remembered.
Those of us who have lost children--we want them to be remembered.
When Selena, the Tejano singer, was murdered in the mid-nineties, our household supported Danielle, a huge Selena fan, in her grief. We drove around with our headlights on. We listened to Tejano stations and Selena music non-stop. We visited Selena's boutique in San Antonio. Danielle saved Selena memorabilia of all kinds, but Danielle moved on, and the box of Selena stuff is either in the attic or has been thrown away. A year or two later, Selena's father released a new album of Selena's music: several remixes, and I think some new songs that had not been previously released. At the time I thought how sad it was. I don't believe he was trying to make a bunch of money; he just wanted his baby to be remembered, just as I want mine.
I blog because I don't want people to forget Maura. I post her videos, I want her college scholarship foundation to be realized, I secretly or not-so-secretly hope all of her friends will name their babies after her. (At least one is for sure). But time moves on, and Maura will slip away from the consciousness of most, and occupy a non-intrusive spot in that of many. What about me? Or her dad and sisters? What will grief and memory be like next year? In five? In twenty? When the girls tell their girls about Maura? What will be Maura's legacy?
Just yesterday a friend of mine commented that I look good: hair cut, a touch of make-up, shirt and jeans that fit well, a smile. "Dare I say 'happy'" she asked. Yes, I was happy. I am often happy. I am basically a very happy person, although I don't believe I'll ever again be happy without sorrow in the shadows. I know that my blog entries are often sad and grief-laden, but the blog is simply a series of snapshots in time, not my entire life. I've returned to work. I've visited with friends. We are in the process of downsizing and getting a new place. We've traveled a bit. I am planning for the future.
I suppose that is "moving forward."
And as I move farther away from when I last held her, I move closer to when I will hold her again.


Anonymous said...

Maura will forever be remembered in our hearts, no matter how much time passes. Naming my daughter after her is our way of continuing her legacy. I often wonder how she will be like Maura. Will she be musical? Will she have her kind heart and generous spirit? I know, though, that there will be something very "Maura" about her.

SLY said...

This year will be six years since James Pyles died. And what does that feel like? What has time done? I can function. I have found peace in living. I still miss him just as much. Some days he seems far away and some days I swear I can smell his cologne. Some days I don't think he ever comes to mind..and when I remember that my heart breaks. But then there are some days when he is ALL that I can think of. (My new apartment is even on street named that shares his name!)

I still write about him a lot in my personal journals and my blogs. I wonder if any one thinks about him and not just on the anniversary of his death or on his birthday. But I want people to think about him at the most random times.

And it does happen. I still get emails from friends telling me of random memories, or new thoughts and it always brings me further to peace.

Does the pain go away? It doesn't sting as much but I carry a permanent scar. I use to rip at the wound willing it to never heal so that I could remember him. But that wasn't a sustainable approach to life for me.

These have been some of my experiences.

Also, I think of Maura often. Very often!

Anonymous said...

You always move WITH her. Never away from. xo

Sue G said...

Erin, your writing always touches me so much. I wish everyone had a mom like you. Heck, I wish MY kids had a mom like you! I read your words and my heart forms a picture of love, the kind of love that does not ever go away, cannot ever be forgotten. It is a love so visceral that it a huge part of what makes you you. So, you move forward in your life...and your love comes with you. You grieve, and your love overflows. You write, and your love stamps your memories forever on your heart.

Just as your heart beat next to Maura's heart the nine months you carried her, it beats today...right next to Maura's heart. The distance between here and heaven is simply a heartbeat away.

Such a short distance, and such a powerful one. One beat for you. One beat for Maura. And they synchronize so perfectly that they become one.

And the beat goes on.

Mary said...

I think of Maura several times every day :) She continues to encourage me to live life with strength, confidence, and adventure. I know I will never forget her smile, kindness, and bravery. The other day I was trying to remember a song for Sean to give to one of his students (Spirate pur spirate by Donaudy) I could not think of how it went....but all the sudden Maura's voice was in my head singing it! I heard her do this piece many times in studio our Freshman/Sophomore year. It was fun to clearly remember how beautifully she sang.

Kathy said...

I concur to what Amanda, Sue and what everyone else said.
I only knew Maura from your blog and for the life of me I can't remember how I found it but when I did, I read from the beginning. I introduced Maura to some of my friends and they were silently praying for you too. Sometimes, they ask me how you are doing now. When Maura died, I grieved too. I'll never forget that morning and I don't think I will ever forget her either. On April 17, my mom will have been dead 25 years. I've moved on, my siblings have moved on but not too far. We still remember the day she died and we still can remember what life was like when she was living. She's gone but she has never strayed too far from where we are. It's impossible to forget...impossible.
love ya, Erin..
PS... I'm still waiting your review of "The Seagull's". How did your favorite actress do?

Beth said...

I will always remember Maura. She is so precious to my heart and my memories of her are ones that I can't imagine ever abandoning. I still have a tattoo design in my mind for when i finally get the guts to do it. She and Allison both are near and dear to my heart. I don't know if I could forget them if I wanted to.
I think of you and Joel, Lydia and Danielle, often. My birthday is 6/22, by the way, so there's definitely that connection there to you all.
I love you guys. I pray for you all often.

Beth Buchanan

Chelsea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chelsea said...

Hi Erin. This was quite a moving blog. I miss you all so much, especially our sweet Maura. It's unimaginable that time has passed so quickly. You have no need to worry. Maura will never ever ever ever EVER be forgotten. Not on any of our watches, that's for sure. If internships/jobs fall on the right time, I was hoping to make it home in June for a little while. I'll let you know how all of that goes. Thinking of you guys always. xoxo