Love, Mama.

My mama had a phenomenal gift for language– her writing will always be the high standard I strive for w/ own work. My dad, brother and I were always prodding her to write a book about her hell-of-a-life, even before her cancer diagnosis. If this woman’s life wasn’t well-lived, I’ll be damned. I’ve hoarded (as well as sneakily read while growing up) her journals, papers, letters and Tweets in my studying how-to be her… I totally single-white-femaled her.

Mama Goose truths in her own words:

In a journal she wrote to me (2014): “Happiness comes from within. To find real happiness and joy you must be happy with yourself– accepting your imperfections, which are not imperfections at all but blessings of character. You will have a family, but you won’t have happiness all the time and perfection is subjective. But, I’m sure they will be beautiful because God made them. Be patient… God has a wonderful future in store for you.”

On how she and my dad named me:
“When I was pregnant with you my brother Steven (who was born with Down Syndrome) was so excited and would call you “Little Stevie” from the time I told him I was going to have a baby. I wanted to name you Katelyn for a while but before that I always thought if I had a girl I wanted to name her Vanessa. But, Steven was so insistent that we gave in and said, okay, if it’s a boy his name will be Steven and if its a girl she will be Stephanie. I love my brother Steven so much so it was good to make him happy. I was pretty sure–boy or girl– he was still going to call you “little Stevie.”

Excerpt from her diary & written while at the Betty Ford Clinic in LA (1986): “Chris is a new roommate in the swamp. She’s so young, 18, but how fortunate she is to be here at 18! I wish I’d had the chance to go to treatment when I was that age. But then again, I didn’t have any idea that I had the disease at that age. Tonight, she woke me up because she was shaking uncontrollably and was short of breath so I took her to the office. I felt so bad for her– she’s so young and scared. She was having tremors (they) said. So a nurse came and gave her something to help. I put her back in bed and then I stayed awake for a long time wondering if she was going to be o.k.” This moved me bc its sounded so familiar to my thoughts when I was taking care of Mama… I spent so many nights laying next to her and worrying if she’s okay. It means so much, yet also breaks me because I miss her and feel so sad, to relate to her words.

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