I was talking on the phone with my dad the other day and I mentioned how, in my mind, my mom will always be the age she was when she died. I forget that she would have continued to age with each birthday, just as I have. I forget about the age I had just recently turned when I lost her.
The time without my mom has passed so quickly yet it painfully creeps by day by day. I was looking at pictures earlier. There are so many pictures of the two of us; me and my mom. I go to each picture and try to think back to when it was taken, where we were, how old I was, what drama was going on in my life that seemed like it was the end of the world. And I would do anything to take another picture, she and I, here on Earth.
You don't realize when the last picture you take with a loved one will be. It scares the hell out of me and is something that deeply, deeply saddens me when I look back at the time while my mom was still alive. The last picture I took with my mom was over a year before she died. I didn't even get a picture with her on Thanksgiving or Christmas. I took pictures of her with my niece and nephew and dad but I didn't get one with her. And that breaks my heart more than I can explain.
Recently, I booked a flight home to visit my dad for his birthday in a few weeks. It will be my first time returning since Christmas. I will be getting back to San Diego from a work trip in Las Vegas and then hopping on a flight a few hours later to go to DC. My dad felt bad because he knew it'd be a lot on me because of the work trip and my anxiety with flying and he said I could wait until next month. But birthdays are birthdays. I missed my mom's last birthdays before she died because I was living in another state and I'm not willing to miss my dad's birthday this year. Life is short. Shorter than we truly realize until something tragic happens.
Visit your family. Take more than enough pictures. And keep your loved ones all around you. Even when you live far away. Find a way.