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This specific blog exists because of letters that have shaped my life. My mother left a short letter to me in my baby book when I was six weeks old. She told me that she loved me, and that she hoped all the hopes for me. I found it as an adult, after she had spent my early childhood in a public mental institution, passing away when I was 13. I hadn’t seen her since I was six years old.

Her best friend had married my father in that time, raising myself and my sister as our mother, along with her two children–our best friends. She passed away unexpectedly of pancreatic cancer four weeks before I gave birth to my daughter. If the universe was punishing her for something, it did a great job. All she wanted was for the four of us to give her grandchildren that she could feed ice cream for breakfast.

I have notes that she wrote in moments of tenderness, signed with her trademark XOXO Mom, where the Os are hearts. Notes like “Don’t tell the others I gave you this money, they aren’t getting any! XOXO, MOM (just kidding, but don’t give away the secret!),” and others letting me know that I would survive morning sickness and go on to be a great mom. She was half right. But she managed to write a letter in her final days to my sister,¬†which she left tucked in a book. She told her to keep us together, to enjoy our lives, and she signed it, “No goodbyes, just Love XOXO, Mom”

Having these few words from two women who loved me is so important. It is all I have left of their voices, the proof that they were here and that they had hopes for me. I realized that I wanted my children to have a lot of this type of proof, since I spend a lot of my time worried that a chicken will fly off the truck in front of us on the highway, hitting our windshield and sending us careening down the cliff edge into a river. This is my insurance against that, among other things.

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