Three hundred sixty-six days, ten hours, twelve minutes, and a couple seconds. That how long it’s been since I told you I love you. I saw you walking down the hallway and something in me told me to hug you tight. I knew it was random but I did it anyway. I hugged you briefly even though I wanted to hug you longer. I should’ve listened to my instincts and hugged you harder. But I didn’t know that was going to be our last hug. I thought I had more time.

I thought I would have another thirty years to hug you. Thirty years to tell you I love you and ask you life advice questions. So, I kept my questions to myself. I kept my hugs to myself. I kept my ‘i love yous’ to myself. I stored them up as if they would gain equity overtime. Instead, I went to bed that night thinking that I would see you in the morning.

I did see you. I found you. I called the ambulance and my life has never been the same. Well, thats a lie Mom…. This past year has been much of the same thing everyday. I still silently cry myself to sleep most nights. My friends are still scared to talk about you around me because they think they’ll upset me. They still don’t know what to say when I say your name and none of them cry around me which is probably why I don’t cry around them. It would be nice to have someone to cry with. I still watch Grey’s Anatomy everyday. I still write and create art. I still tell jokes and laugh at my own corniness. Everyone still asks me ‘whats next?’ they all want to know the plan for my life but what I wish they knew is that I’m still grieving. Their lives have continued on with little to no change and mine has been halted like Friday afternoon traffic. I wish they knew how hard it still is for me to get out of bed. I wish they asked me how it feels to grieve. I wish they understood what it’s like to be an orphan after you had a mom. Because that’s what I am now, Mom. An orphan. I don’t have parents anymore. I don’t have a home anymore. I don’t have support anymore.

So, this is hard. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I keep hearing that it gets better…but it isn’t. It’s getting worse actually. This must be what death feels like. It feels like the anticipation that compresses your chest when you’re waiting for a balloon to pop while its being stretched to its max. I wait for the pop that never comes…

Mom, I’m so mad at you for leaving me behind! We were supposed to do life together. Why couldn’t you take me with you? A lot of people would think I would be mad at God but I’m honestly not. He did the one thing I couldn’t do…protect you. I’m actually grateful to Him that He saved you from this world. I have a sense of peace that no one can hurt you anymore. I’m thankfully that your shoulder isn’t hurting anymore and the arthritis in your knee, that you made me promise never to tell anyone about, is finally gone. I’m glad that you don’t have fake friends like Ms. Sharon around you anymore. I’m glad Earle can’t lie to you anymore. I think God took you to keep you away from people like them. I think He took you not because He needed you but because He needed me to see Him through you.

People say I’m strong or wise or capable or smart but really I’m just scared. I’m scared of achieving anything without you because I’ve never done that before. I’m scared of outliving you, of loving someone more than you, of watching a movie that you would like, of meeting a man that you’d approve of. I’m in a constant state of fear without you. They say I lost you but I know exactly where you are. I just cant get to you. They say you’re gone but I feel you when I breathe. They say you’re only here in spirit but I see you every night when I fall asleep to you brushing my hair. They say ur with me but I cant touch you when I want to. They say ur proud of me but I cant hear you say that so I’ll never know if its true. They say you’re smiling down from heaven but I’d rather you be smiling next to me. How can someone who is not here feel so real to me? Sometimes I think I dreamed of you this whole time. Like, maybe you never existed and I made up your greatness in my head. Maybe I’ve actually been an orphan this whole time and I just never knew it.

So, over the last 365 days, I’ve spent 364 of those days asking myself what I would say to you if I could just see you one more time. If I could say one thing that sums everything up…what would it be?

I could tell you I love you, but you already know that. I could tell you a funny joke. I could show you the book I’m writing. I could hug you. I could ask you if you’re okay. I could turn on some good music. I could watch a movie with you. I could show you my guitar. I could show you the list of people that betrayed you since you’ve been gone. I could update you with all the drama of people we know because you’ll never guess who’s pregnant again. I could show you the house I wanted to buy you. I could show you this really pretty picture I took of grandma at Thanksgiving. I could listen to stories from your high school years. I could take you out to dinner and buy you new clothes or shoes. I could do your makeup or curl the back of your hair. I could show you my car. I could remind you that what’s next is better. I could run errands for you. I could help you invent a game for your staff meeting. I could help you pick a date for this weekend. I could……

I digress, none of that was the purpose of this letter. The purpose of this letter is to tell you all the things I never told you so I can remember to tell my loved ones before I leave them. So, I made a list and here it is:

“Mom, I’m proud of you!”

Love, Janae Nicole Davis