two white women stand together with a group of people milling behind them; the woman on the left is dressed in graduation garb; the woman on the right is in a lilac short sleeve jacket and matching dress

003. six things i wanted to call you about recently

Letters to Mam

Mam,

Your number is still in my phone. Part of me refuses to delete it because doing so seems like the final admission of your leaving. But then, whenever I open my phone app to call someone, your number comes up as my most called, right next to my ex-husband’s, and I am reminded again that I can’t call you.

Some of the things I wanted to call you about lately:

  1. Alonzo Brooks’ case has been reclassified as a homicide. We followed his case after watching the new Unsolved Mysteries together, and felt deep in our bones the injustice of his and his family’s treatment. I know you’d be as happy as I was to hear this development.
  2. I gave a presentation at conference at my university this week about disability and accessibility. It’s the first academic presentation I have ever given that I haven’t been able to run by you first. You are so much a part of my academic journey, my academic life, that not having your perspective on this presentation was noticeable, and made me feel unprepared in a way I will have to learn to live with.
  3. Derek Chauvin was convicted of all three charges against him. I sat on my bed and sobbed off and on for hours, not because I felt joy, but because for once, someone was held accountable. All I felt was brief relief. When the video came out last summer, we talked for a long time about defunding and rebuilding the police, the history of policing in this country, and our fears that even with his actions on full display for the world to see, how he might not face any consequences. I hate that you weren’t here to see him face consequences, to see this step towards (possible) change.
  4. My divorce was finalized in March. You were so supportive of my coming out, of my separation and living authentically, even though it meant ending an otherwise healthy, loving marriage with a man you loved like your own. I wish you could be here to see what that looks like for me.
  5. I have read more than 70 books so far this year, and there are so many I wish I could tell you about. Little Fish by Casey Plett, Luster by Raven Leilani, Sheets by Brenna Thummler, Home is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo, the Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman…I could go on and on and on. I love that we could share books, that you taught me to love books before I could even read, that we could talk about books for hours and hours and never run out of things to say. The only thing we ran out of was time.
  6. I have also watched several movies and TV shows that I wish we could have watched together. The fact that we shared film studies made watching movies such a fun and simultaneously deeper, richer experience – even watching Hallmark movies with you was a conversation. I am grateful that I filmed our discussion of The Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), so that I at least have one of our conversations preserved forever.

We used to talk 2-3 times a week, at least, and in the last month or so I have really been feeling that void. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like that void is filled, because no one could talk about anything like you could, or provide the perspective you could, or frustrate me with their devil’s advocacy like you could. I miss your voice through the crackle of a cell phone speaker, Mam. I miss your mind and your willingness to spend hours talking about everything in the world with me.

I miss you.

Love,

A