It's been exactly three years since you went to heaven, and I'm sure you're not counting anymore, but here on Earth it's your birthday. Today you would be 48, and I'm thinking of you even more than usual. Of all the things I miss about you (and there are millions) the most is being able to tell you what's going on in all of our lives. I mean, knowing you, you've looked down once or twice to peak, but just in case, I thought I'd share how we're doing.
First of all, we miss you. If you ever had a doubt on whether or not you left your mark on this world, there was definitely no need worry. The whole world hurt to see you go. I could have never imagined anything like it. Everyone I know still talks about you every day. You taught us all so much. I know it would make you sad to think of everyone sad down here, but you should also know we are okay. When you first went away, I thought I'd never be able to think of you without crying. But it turns out, three years later, every time we talk about you we are laughing. I guess all the times you got everyone in trouble are a lot easier to laugh at now that we are no longer afraid!
It took us some time to rebuild- and to get used to you not fixing everything we messed up- but we've learned a lot also. The church regained strength, and those whose hearts were really with us became stronger leaders. The team of women that you built looks different, but the core that you built is still strong, and still growing. I guess it's true that a good tree gives good fruit. And I've learned that the best trees can give keep giving fruit even past their own lifetimes. I think of you anytime I see Elsie, or Mayra, and I'm reminded that you were so good at loving people that they are capable of repaying you even after you are gone, by carrying your legacy. You'd be so excited about what we've done with Redoma! I really think we are getting better every year. We did a play about you one year, and your twin, Jessie, was you, and we had a million little girls dressed like angels. It had you written all over it. Oh and, we moved into the new building! It was literally the biggest pain ever- we worked for months. But you would have loved the inauguration- there were thousands of people there to worship, and all your friends were there. What I'm trying to say is that I think this last year, especially, we've been able to rebuild. I remember you always used to say no one was indispensable. I just never ever thought you also meant you.
In other news, I am a married woman! It's crazy to think the last time we spoke I was heartbroken, and you were telling me I would find someone at the right time. I did find him, a month after you left us, and I'm only sad that you couldn't get to know him. I met him exactly when I needed to, and he was exactly who I needed to meet. I sometimes joke around that when you got to heaven you put a good word in and sent him to me. You would have LOVED the wedding! I thought of you the whole time because you would have had so much fun planning it! but I did do a lot of the things we talked about: the lace dress, the giant cake, and I did give in and let the whole church come. It was ridiculous the amount of people that were there, but so fun, and so full of love. We all cried our eyes out. There was so much peace in the room. I had never been so sure about anything in my life. Remember I always used to say I was gonna get rid of my middle name when I got married? I actually came really close, but I thought of how much you loved it and I couldn't go through with it. So it's still my name. And Gracia is too, because they remind me of you, and how God changed your name from pain to grace. I always want to have that grace with me. So, I have the longest name ever pretty much, but it's cool. In one month, it will be our first anniversary. I've learned this year that right about everything, too. All the advise that you gave me about marriage, and especially the house stuff comes in handy- even though my friends and husband probably all think I'm crazy because of how picky I am with cleaning. But I can't ever get your voice out of my head- it's terrifying. I'm sure you will be happy to hear that. Still, you never taught me how to make your turkey, and my turkey is dry as heck, so we slipped on that one, and I'm very angry about that. More like it makes me sad that I didn't realize how much I should have soaked up when you were here with me. Even at work, sometimes when I can't figure out what to do I wish I would have taken detailed notes. I frequently ask myself what PMG would do. Then I scale it back to my level of intensity (verses your level 100) and try to do it. I am also writing! You always said I would, and I should, and now I am. My first book was dedicated to you and Papi.
Speaking of Papi, I know you may worry about him, but he's better now, too. He found someone to love him, and take care of him, and we all love her too. She's become part of the family. In a lot of ways, she reminds me of you. And she's keeping him in line, so you would be proud. People don't believe me when I tell them how you used to say if you ever passed, to make sure he got married and that he wasn't lonely. It's so weird that you said that, but I believe it was for a reason, because it gives me peace, knowing you are more than ok with it. I think what I love most about her is she doesn't flinch or seem annoyed when we talk about you, or the family before she was a part of it. She laughs and smiles with us, and she honors your legacy. That's how I know she's the right one. Papi is also traveling more than ever. You'd be so happy to see what God is doing through him, through our testimony. It has touched a lot of people to know that we lost you, but we still believe in healing, in wholeness. The kids are growing too. I miss living with them a lot now that I am married, but I neurotically obsess about them which causes me to pray, so I got that covered, at least. Ru released his first CD, and it's really really good! He had a concert at church, and a lot of people accepted Christ that day. Also- he has a girlfriend! You'd like her, she's sweet. Jess is crazy, as usual, but with all that craziness, I've seen her grow up into a really hard worker. She's quick, and she's smart, and she's working really hard in school. JJ, our baby, is going to be 17 next month. Sadly, he doesn't look like a baby anymore at all, and he goes by Jay now. He is so handsome, though. He's getting straight A's, and he's a drummer how you always said he would be. Billie is huge too! She looks exactly like Rozelle. I always think that you'd love that. Without you here, we don't see each other as much as we used to, when you would force us on family outings!! But we try, and I know it's also because we are older. Yesterday we celebrated Abuelita's 80th and we were all there. She was so happy. She said in all her 80 years, us all being together as a family that day was her favorite memory.
I wish you were here, so badly, if for no other reason, to tell you all this in person. I'm sure your dying to hear who has married who and who is dating as well, because you loved to get the juice! But the list literally goes on forever, so I don't know about that...Just know that no matter how much time goes by, I never stop wanting to talk to you, to write to you, to tell you in any way I can, that I love you, and I am so thankful that you were my mom. Even if it could only be for 23 years, I consider it to be one of the greatest gifts I've had in my life- to first have you as a mom, and eventually to have you as a friend. If there's any way you can swing a visit down here, please tell God I would greatly appreciate it. I'm pretty sure that's not how it works, but hey, it's worth a try. I don't know how much people remember in heaven, but please just don't forget that I'll love you forever, like you for always, as long as I'm living, your baby I'll be.