October 11, 2010 - Hi Mom.

Hello Mom.

I'm home. Georgia and I came by to visit you today. It was so comforting to be near you. Can you believe my daughter, your granddaughter, turns one in two days? I know, it's crazy! The year has been a blur, but a blur of magic and love and happiness and beauty. Georgia is so beautiful and smart and funny. I know you're proud of her. I hope you see her.

Today she played in the shadow of your name. She felt the grass and pulled herself up on the black stone that holds the ocean. You know, Georgia hasn't even seen the ocean yet. I hope I can show it to her soon and watch her play in its warmth. Those waters have always been such a gigantic part of our lives. I'm glad the ocean is now never far from you, at least in picture. It's there on that shiny black stone that rests forever above you.

For the first time in a year, my heart was quiet while I was near you. It was a strange feeling, a feeling that I'd almost forgotten and yet the stranger returned. But sitting there in the Georgia sun, on the grass covering that red dirt, there was quiet. I wonder if Georgia felt it too? I wonder when I'll feel it again?

She touched the ridges of your name. I think she liked the rough feeling of your carved name in contrast to the silky smoothness of the surrounding stone. I like to believe she was closer to her Oma at that moment. I try not to think how different her life would be if you could hold her and teach her and love her. Actually, sometimes I do try but I never get far. It breaks my heart every time. I can't imagine how excited you would have been to have us in town this entire week for her first birthday. How you would have had everything just right for her, you would have had things planned out, you wouldn't have missed a moment.

I don't want to imagine what it would have been like. But yet I still do.

Did you see us when we came by to visit today? Did you see how big my baby girl has grown? Did you watch her as she tried to stand, her chunky almost-toddler legs holding her tall? Were you there? Maybe she kept peeking over your headstone because she saw you in the distance. I'm sure those angel wings are hard to miss. Maybe the reason she started talking up a storm the moment we sat down was because she was talking to her Oma. I'm sure you both had a lot to catch up on. I'd like to think you were there and close to us. Lord knows I could use your presence.

You are still so beautiful in my mind. I can't believe it has been a year since you left. I love you to this day as much as I always have and always will. A headstone does not serve well as an Oma, I'll be honest. But don't worry, it won't be all Georgia knows of you. I will tell her your story as she grows, how you lived and how you loved. My memories of you will become her memories of you, and she will love you.

Goodbye mom. I'm here for the week so I'll be back again. We'll talk soon.

And on this somber anniversary, as a family, we went for a walk through town. My daughter and husband, my sisters, my nieces and my father.

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My niece Emily found some dying balloons on the sidewalk and decided to give them a second life, pulling them along for the stroll.

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We looked in store windows, enjoyed the fresh mountain air and stopped for ice cream with names like "birthday cake."

We were together, family... minus one. But it wasn't lost on me that my niece stooped down to pluck a lifeless butterfly from the ground. My mother wore a butterfly necklace every day of her life, and if you've read this blog before, you've probably noticed my slight obsession with butterflies since her death.

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Mom told me before she left she saw butterflies everywhere, all around her.

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