It’s been a weird thing for me that since the day that Mona passed I haven’t been able to really see her face in my mind.
I get glimpses of it…like something you see out of the corner of your eye…but not clear. Like a will-o-wisp that taunts you and makes you think you’re seeing things.
It’s actually been quite frustrating and a point of sadness for me because it’s one of those old tropes you read in books and hear in movies about not being able to hear loved one’s voices, or forgetting their faces over time.
Pictures are one thing, but memories are another…and even my memories have had Monas face blurred and unclear.
I’ve tried to figure out what this is. Is it my mind protecting me? Or my heart?
Today that changed for me in the oddest way.
Miriya has this water toy that she got at a friends birthday party. It’s a simple device…you pull a knob back and it sucks water into a chamber and you push it and it shoots water out. Fun times.
Well, Miriya has had it in my car for weeks and on our way home from the dance concert tonight she had it pressed under her chin and was pulling back on the knob making it suck on her face.
I told her…
“If you keep doing that it’s going to give you a hickie!”
I then had to explain to my 11-year-old daughter what a hickie was.
I just went for it and told her the truth.
Hickies come from lying to your dad and not going to bed on time.
She didn’t go for that so I told her a neutered down version of the truth and warned her that I could see hickies through clothing. It’s a special power that dads have.
She might have bought that.
Anyways, Miriya pulled the toy off of her face and as I thought there was a small purple welt under her chin where it had created the tiny little bruise from the suction.
I told her “SEE LOOK!” ..and she saw it in the mirror in the car and promptly started to freak out. So much that when we went to Chipotle for dinner she was covering it with her hair.
Over the course of the evening apparently, she forgot about it (and so did I).
She came into my room to ask me a question about something and I immediately noticed it had quadrupled in size (now about the size of a quarter from the size of a pea) and started laughing…
And that’s when it hit me…
A huge flash of Monas face…clear…healthy….laughing….and her voice saying
“Oh my god girl…what did you do to your face???!?!?”
Followed by the huge laugh that Mona would have when something truly amused her…her eyes wrinkling and her smile…so clear…
And I just laughed with Miriya and told her how much I wish her Mom was here because she would have laughed so hard at this…we both would have….
And then out of my hilarious laughter, the sadness came. A different strength and angle from the laughter…maybe not as strong…but it tried to ruin that moment for me. Trying to sucker punch me as I was distracted.
And Miri laughed with me.
It tried to taint that true moment of joy.
And it lost for a moment. I dodged the full punch initially.
I’ve never felt such intense emotions so close to each other in such a short period of time.
I pushed back and just kept laughing and seeing Monas face through my tears. Laughing and thinking of how funny it would be to be able to tell her…
“Remember that time that Miriya put the water toy on her chin?”
But that Memory won’t be shared with her. It was just between Miri and I.
When she left, the sadness lingered after the joy was gone.
The punch had landed after all, I just didn’t feel it until after.
Mona’s face has become blurry again as I try to recall it, as it has been.
But it was clear for those few moments.
A shred of hope.
I gladly pay the price with the tears I have in my eyes as I write this. With the ache in my heart. With the doubt I continue to hold as to how I do this. How I continue.
A memory I will treasure.