To Emily and Samuel
from your Mother
The Introduction to My Journal for You
April 9, 1990
When I was eight-years-old, my mother died of cancer.
The rest of my life I kept looking for a message from her. I thought that maybe, on some milestone day of my life, someone would come to me and say, "When your mother realized she was going to die, and wouldn't be here to see this occasion, she wrote a letter to be given to you when the time came." Then they would hand me a letter that would contain a precious message from the mother I missed so deeply, whom I barely knew and to whom I never said good-bye.
Every birthday I wondered about it - At my high school graduation, at my college graduation, on my wedding day... Finally I confided my dream to my older sister, Jan.
She told me our mother didn't leave any letters. She said Mother was so intent on having a positive attitude and "beating this thing", she never admitted to herself she was dying until she was too sick and in too much pain to think of such a thing and act on it.
Now I wonder what it would have been like to know my mother as an adult. I have asked people who knew her to share their memories. I have pictures, but don't remember the sound of her voice. Sometimes your Aunt Jan tells me I just did something or said something just like mother would have said it. It makes me happy and sad at the same time because then I feel the void her going left in my life.
So anyway, I'm saying all of this to explain why I'm writing this book, letter style, to you, my children. It will contain family stories, advice, and explanations of why we did things certain ways. This book will allow me to communicate to you all I want to tell you someday just in case something happens to me before you are old enough to understand and remember. AND if I don't die, well... great! I will write down some things that I might forget or just never get around to telling you. It will give me a chance to let you know me.
It's hard to imagine "years from now". Emily, you are only two; affectionate, rebellious, a lover of music and dancing, artistic with your crayons, and full of energy. Even now you are trying to turn the page while I am trying to write. You are squealing, making faces, and waiting impatiently for Daddy to take the oatmeal cookies out of the oven.
Samuel, you are only two months old, but you smile and talk when anyone pays attention to you. Emily is so exuberant in her affection to her "Baby Bother", she makes you nervous. You look worried when she is right in your face, leaning on your stomach and kissing all over you. Right now you are in your swing and waking up from your nap. No doubt you are making plans to keep mother up late tonight. Or maybe you are wondering when mother is coming with the chow. Well, she's coming right now!