On Friday, photos of my mom appeared on my Apple watch. I wasn’t aware of pressing any buttons. The photos had been taken at different times, but they both showed Mom smiling and her bright blue eyes shining. The photos made me happy and weepy; we were approaching the one-year anniversary of her death.
It was a very difficult year. It was a year when sadness was an ever-present lump in my throat. It was a year when I jumped every time my home phone rang; she and telemarketers were the only people who called that number. It was a year when I needed to stay away from places — Hampton Beach, Barnes & Noble, the Christmas Tree Shop — that reminded me of her.
It was a year when I needed to talk to my mother more times than I can count. I was so happy for our son when he got a job and moved to Las Vegas, but I was heartbroken that he was moving thousands of miles away. I remember coming inside the house after he and my husband drove away and wanting nothing more than to cry to and be consoled by my mother. I was filled with pride when our daughter had her first associate director position on a Broadway show. I wanted to call my mom and brag so that she could start the grandmother bragging chain. I wanted to call my mother when I felt hurt by a cruel remark or disappointed by a hard race.
Today is that one year anniversary. I’m so sad, but I am also relieved; I am relieved to be past all of the firsts: the first birthday I celebrated without my mom in the world, the first Christmas without a gift from her with a price tag left on it, the first St. Patrick’s Day without sending her a card with a bit of green (a dollar bill) in it; the first Mother’s Day without a hug from the woman who was my first true love.
I wasn’t sure how to mark this day. I called my four siblings. I laughed and cried with some of them; I exchanged heartbroken texts with others. I ran with one friend and had coffee with another. I’m going to visit a third in the hospital, which is exactly something my mother would do.
I also went to Barnes & Noble and ordered a piece of chocolate cheesecake. Mom and I loved to share a piece whenever I visited. I couldn’t eat more than half; it didn’t taste as good without her sitting across from me and saying it was luscious.
The photos that popped up on my watch on Friday? After thinking about it, I realized that Friday was the one year anniversary of the last time I was with my mom. I think she must have somehow sent the photos to me, to remind me that she is always with me. And I know that she sent them from a better place, because there’s no way she would have been able to figure out how to do anything technological without Someone’s help.