DIANE PHILLIPS: 'I miss you everyday’ – A letter to my mother


Diane Phillips

Dear Mom,

Sunday is Mother’s Day. I wish you were here.

So much has changed in the world since you left.

We walk around now grasping small devices we call cell phones, but they are much more than a phone. The entire world’s knowledge is available through them. Enter a question, Google the answer. Google is new, too. It’s harder to explain than the hardware it lives on, but it is the goofy sounding name for the software that searches for whatever you ask it to. It is a truly amazing tool that lets you research everything and anything -- the number of fish in the sea, the latest science on DNA, the decline of coral reefs off the coast of Australia -- as easily as making a reservation online at your favourite restaurant.

I just remembered you probably don’t know what online means, either.

Online when you were alive was where we hung our clothes outside, especially the ones we wanted to dry bright white in the sun. Nowadays, everyone is afraid of the sun because of its UVA and B rays that reportedly cause wrinkles and skin cancer. Just between you and me, I think our personal love of the sun will win out in the long run since who doesn’t relish the feel of the sun’s warmth shining on their face? I remember how much you loved it. You’d raise your face to the sun and just go quiet for a moment like if you spoke you would interrupt the flow of energy into your body that would fail you way too early.

There’s this other thing about the sun, too.

We now have something called climate change. It’s way more significant than season change when we put away sweaters and pulled out lighter weight sheets. Climate change is impacting the world. Last winter we didn’t even have one, a winter that is. At least not in The Bahamas. Ice caps are melting faster than anyone predicted, storms are more intense, ocean temperatures are rising and since no one really believed all this could happen in our lifetime, most people ignored the warnings and figured someone would fix it before it was too late, like we fix a clogged sink or other problems. We didn’t want to relate to something that seemed so distant. Now our grandchildren may be looking at only certain places they can live or, if still in The Bahamas, on boats or those islands that have not been swallowed by the ocean. Can you believe there are pioneers looking for places to live or vacation in space? I am not kidding.

It IS a very different world.

Remember when I mentioned online before? There is now this thing called social media. It allows you to connect with people you don’t know and send hate mail that can lead them to kill themselves. That was not what it was designed for, of course. It was supposed to let us connect with people and build relationships and rapport, to link up for business purposes or simply to be social, just like its name implies. But somehow it got out of hand so now you can go online and use it for good or evil.

Online is really handy in a lot of ways. For instance, let’s say you want to make a great spaghetti sauce. You Google it and get 4,610,000 recipe results in the flash of a second (I just tested it.) How are you supposed to choose which one is best? It’s hard enough to choose between two.

We can order everything and pay our bills online. We don’t have to physically take cash or cheques to people we owe or pay utility bills or stores anymore, we transfer money miraculously online. It is hard to believe how much that one word “online” (meaning internet) has changed our lives. Some people shop for new homes online and everyone books their vacations that way. But the danger with online, so far as I can tell, is that it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do which is free us up to spend our time in more rewarding, valuable and kind ways. It frees us up to spend more time online.

There are those who use it for all the wrong reasons, too, like learning how to build a homemade bomb which reminds me that since you left this world, it has gotten a lot more violent. In this little once almost idyllic nation except for truly awful socio-economic differences, thousands and thousands of people are carrying guns. Remember the police did not even have guns a few decades ago? Just Billy clubs. Now, just about every business has security cameras. People in every kind of neighbourhood have double locks on their doors. We all but lock our car doors when we get out to walk around to the other side. It’s scary.

I had not realized until I started this letter to you how much that has happened since you left this world way too early that has made it a less gentle or safe place.

We know more than we did before, but we behave worse.

We have instant access to a host of strangers, but we don’t treasure those closest to us.

We enjoy more conveniences than ever, but we have lost touch with the reward of doing something ourselves.

It’s not all bad.

There are lots of good things happening, like finding new relatives through DNA. In The Bahamas, there is a renewed sense of pride in farming, maybe because of the supply shortage we experienced during a recent pandemic or because of the high cost of importing so much food. Solar power – that’s electricity produced by the sun and stored in battery banks – is finally catching on. One day soon, they won’t be making gasoline-powered cars and that little tin model Texaco gas station you and Daddy gave me for Christmas one year will be worth a few coins at an antique show. I drive an electric vehicle now. You would love it. I can ask my onscreen assistant to lower the passenger window just in case I am too busy driving and talking on Bluetooth, which is not a new dental term, to do it myself. That’s two conversations at once. In your day if you held two conversations while driving, we’d have thought you were done for mentally.

Yes, there has been a world of change and that change has created a more complicated and burdened society. It’s little wonder holidays make us sentimental.

So maybe when I long for your company and the hour to just sit and talk with you, I am longing for a simpler, kinder, gentler time along with the wisdom you quietly offered after listening intently as if you genuinely cared about the questions I asked.

We never paid enough attention to what you were asking for silently. You never complained, even when you must have been suffering intense pain.

You were so thoughtful and giving to others, we just took your character for granted and thought you would be there forever, a steadying, generous in spirit and time and lovingly calming voice.

And only at the last moment before you closed your eyes for the last time did we pour out all the love in our hearts.

This you should know. It isn’t only Mother’s Day when I wish you were here, but every day. You would be shocked – I can just see the wide-eyed expression on your face – yes, shocked to know that in all the years you’ve been gone there has not been a single day without my missing you and wishing you were here.


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