Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

cram_halfDearest Marietta,

I knew you were dying, but I wanted one more day together. One more kiss, one more chance to remind you that I love you. One more game of Giant Step in the yard. One more birthday with one more candle, and enough breath to blow it out.

But, the candles stand forever at 34, with no more kisses and no new tomorrows. No more letters in your funny handwriting. No more songs crooned together as Dad howls and we break out laughing so hard we can’t continue. No more clothes borrowed, then rumpled and forgotten under the bed. Just 34 candles, silent and still.

It’s been 16 years since your life on earth came to an end. I still remember that Monday when I sat with you and held your hand and listened to Pachelbel as you gasped for breath. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, the gasps quieted. And then there was silence.

Oh Marietta, I miss you so much. I yearn to hear your voice and listen to your funny stories about wheelchair races down the halls at the nursing home where you worked. I want to hear about the times you prayed with residents, and how you once smuggled a puppy into our house and hoped Mom wouldn’t notice. And, I’d give anything to find my rumpled clothes stuffed under your bed. Anything.

I am sorry for the times I hurt you and was self-righteous and smug. I’m sorry, too, for the grudge I held against you as Mom and Dad struggled to help you overcome your addictions. I forgive you for mistakes you made, even the ones that led to your death.

I talk to you sometimes. I hope you can hear me. I write about you, too. I’m pretty sure that’s okay.

Your boys are now terrific young men and they’ve been blessed with wonderful families. They remind me so much of you that sometimes I have to turn away so they don’t see me cry. Each time I say good-bye to them, I hug them for a long time. I never want to let them go.

I don’t want to let you go, either, even after all these years. I hope you and I will spend eternity side by side in Paradise, but women in our family live to be so old that I’m afraid it may be a long wait. Can you save me a seat?

I love you, Etta. Did I ever tell you that? Did I tell you that I admire your guts? That you made me laugh? That I need your childhood memories? That I ache at your absence in ways I can’t even understand?

I want you to know that your life had meaning. I know you struggled with drug and alcohol addictions, but I also know that God had a firm grip on you, especially during your long battle with AIDS. As a matter of fact, your attempts to be faithful inspired a family friend to serve God through her music. She even wrote a song about you. Were you paying attention when she sang it at your funeral?

Thanks for listening. I guess you’ve got plenty of time on your hands, huh?

One more thing. Can you see others in heaven? Can you see Peter’s and my baby, Benjamin, who also is in Paradise? We never got to hold him. Can you hold him for me the way I hug your boys for you? Be sure to tell him that the other kids miss him, too. That would mean more than I can ever express.

So I guess that’s it for now.

May your soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, by the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Love you, girl,


Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer.