An Unsent Letter to my Kids

Written in the 3rd week of August 2014:

I woke up too early this morning. I was outside in time to put the trash to the street at 6:30. I walked down the hill with Michael to cut mesquite. Michael packed his car and got on the road. He had a hard time leaving. Every step away is a step toward the reality that dad is gone.

I went up to Green Valley with Ari and her girls to do some thrift store shopping. I was sitting in the car in front of Goodwill when I suddenly had an overwhelming sense of homesickness—the sense that I could not go home and tell Mike about my shopping and the great bargains I’d found and see his smile, know he’d listen to me because I’d had fun even if he didn’t care at all about the shopping. I couldn’t climb into bed next to him and put my feet on his leg and feel connected and safe. I sat in the car for a few minutes trying to get up the courage to open the door, walk into the store and smile at strangers.

Dad liked to buy me perfume and jewelry. I didn’t wear very much perfume, but since I got home I pick it up and spray it on every morning. Why now?

Ari is flying home tomorrow night. Megan drove back down today with Derek. We can hang out together for a few more days.

I know you are all feeling the same sense of loss I feel. I know you miss dad. I know you’re waiting to wake up and see him here with us again. I wish he was still here. But I think about the pain he felt, the inability to do the things he loved, the way he was trapped in a body that didn’t work right. I wouldn’t wish him back to that. I hope he feels good and strong and whole.

He is waiting for us. He loves us. I feel him still helping me, encouraging me. So if I can help or encourage you, or just cry with you, or remember how much we love each other I will do it.

It hits when I least expect it. Having you here was wonderful. Having all your energy and life in the house lifted me up. I wish dad could have been here with us. Maybe he was. I know he loved having the family together more than just about anything.

Move ahead with your life. It’s what dad wants. Cry when you’re sad; know that life goes forward. Someday we will be together again, Dad and me, with you and your families. We are linked together. We are a family. Work to keep those bonds strong.
I love you.

MOM

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About Karen Hopkins

Karen Hopkins (1949-) was born in Los Angeles and raised in Martinez, California. At seventeen she moved to Talcahuano, Chile. After completing her university degree she worked in London, England for Pan American Airlines and traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, and India. For twenty-six years Karen taught Spanish and English as a Second Language in a variety of settings including a private school in Panama, the "most remote school in the United States"--Ticaboo, Utah, the Navajo Reservation, a teacher exchange in Hermosillo, Mexico, Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Arizona, and Cochise College in Nogales, Arizona. She and her husband travel extensively throughout Mexico and Central America, and have spent many summers in the remote highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala with their family. Karen currently lives in Southern Arizona, near the Mexican border.
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