Almost three years ago, when I thought I’d lost Marika forever, I found her poems. My daughter was not gone; she was upstairs in her room, in a dozen journals, in a million words, waiting for me to discover. Over the first year I combed the house, upstairs and down, and came up with other “gifts” that revealed things about her I never knew. Then, a year after her death, days before I flew to Australia to scatter her ashes, I wrote, “When I get home there will be nothing left to find.” But in the process of packing for the trip I found a framed picture she’d drawn of a rabbit in a heart that said, “Welcome Home Mom.” After the trip, only very occasionally an earring, a drawing or some other “gift” would surface.
Late Monday night this past week, I found one more. In a pile of CDs, in a corner of our shared workspace, stuck behind another CD was a real gift I had never seen or known of before. On its front, marked in the palest letters it said, “To Mom From Marika.”
Marika never got the chance to say goodbye or leave a letter. And I was not her favorite person, to say the least, so I never expected anything. But there I was in the middle of the night holding something she made just for me.
It was long past my bedtime but I played it. For 74 minutes I laughed and cried. I trembled, rocked, hugged myself and danced. I felt her reaching out to me, saw her sitting in her room knowing she had cancer, knowing she could die, copying 17 songs with carefully selected messages she knew her mother would listen to and be cradled by.
When it was over, wet-ratted tissues dotted the floor and I held myself up, exhausted, with dripping face, to talk to her life-sized photo on the wall.
“How did I not see the person you were, you daughter of mine?”
I can still hear her smugly poking back at me,
“Way to go, mom. It only took you three years to find this.”