Dear Ashby,

This isn’t a Peggy letter. I know that.  Still, I’ve been composing parts of it since Bret called to tell me that Peggy had left us.  Because while no two experiences are the same, you’re now a member of a club that no one really wants to belong to, one with a very shitty but non-negotiable membership requirement, and I know a few things about this sisterhood. Your walk will not be the same as mine, but I can tell you some things I know to be true regardless of the path you take to reach them.  Like I said, this isn’t a Peggy letter. But I thought you might need a letter right about now, so here it is.

I promise you this: It will get better. The day will come when it sneaks up on you that you feel a little better than you did the day/week/month before.  And sometime after that, hopefully sooner rather than later, you’ll be able to think or talk about Peggy without your voice cracking and you worrying that you’re going to ugly cry at a completely inappropriate time, like someone saying,  “Have a nice day” as you’re checking out at Target. It will get better.

And sometime later still, you will go a few days without thinking about her.  And that’s OK.  Then you’ll speak of her in a matter of fact way and be at peace, and you’ll think “I’ve made it through this. I’m going to be OK.” And that is true.

Sometime after that, maybe nearly two years later,  you’ll be feeling like everything is as normal as it is now. Maybe you’ll be doing something really mundane, like folding socks, and it will hit you like it happened yesterday. Slice you in the heart, kick you in the gut, and you’ll be harshly, horrifically reminded again that she’s gone.  You’ll shed a few tears, and then you’ll go on. It will never be as bad again as it is right now.

You are at that point right now where well meaning people are telling you, maybe in clumsy ways, that they love you. It comes in the form of what you should/should not be doing.  It comes in the form of platitudes of “at least she isn’t suffering any more,” and “at least you had…” and you smile and say “Thank you” out loud, while screaming “Fuck you!” in your head, because you know this is just one of those times when people don’t know what to say.  If they haven’t already, most of the calls and texts and emails will stop. And people will wonder why you haven’t snapped back into your former self,  and you’ll want to strangle them and ask “how can you not understand that nothing will be the same again?!” You are not crazy. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll have people to drag you out when you don’t want to go, for coffee/a walk/a drink/a pedicure because sometimes, people not so close to the situation know you need to get out of your head a little bit.  You’ll wake up at hours when you should be sleeping, and you’ll google inane things,  and you’ll watch the Real Housewives of  (Insert City Here), and you won’t be able to concentrate on anything, not even Us Weekly. Your brain will run a thousand miles an hour and you’ll wonder how you’re at all competent at work and with Bret and with your children and your siblings and your dad and your clients, but You’ll do it. 

You’ll realize that most of the time, when people ask “How can I help?” they mean it. And you’ll appreciate the texts and FB posts about Britney and the ones where people say “just checking in on you.” You’ll forgive most of the people who don’t handle this like you need them to. You’ll be angry, maybe irrationally so, at random people. But some will deserve it. You may tell them. You may write a letter to them that you never send. You may rage against them in your mind. You may decide to let it go because it’s just not that important in the big scheme of things. Whatever you choose is fine.

You may laugh a little harder, hug a little longer, love a little more passionately, live a little more fully, because you realize how precious and short and tenuous it all is. This will make your life richer.

You may start to say “No,” without explanation, to things that just don’t matter to you, or require your energy. This will make your life better.

You are starting a year of firsts. The first birthday/Christmas/Anniversary/Mother’s Day, when Peggy isn’t here. You may want to throw something at your television because every other commercial is about how special Mom is, or you may want to stay away from Facebook on Mother’s Day.  Don’t throw something at your TV. Watch something on Hulu or Netflix instead. Maybe stay off FB on Mother’s Day.  These days suck and the world doesn’t know it, and you are happy for your friends celebrating, and upset that you aren’t, and upset at how unfair it all is, and you should just pour a glass of wine and be with it all for a bit.

My point, Ashby, with this letter, is that you are in a really weird and discombobulated place right now. But you’re lucky because so many people love you, and loved your mama, and love your daddy, and love your siblings.  We have your back while you navigate this path you didn’t ask to be on, that has no clear direction.  And no matter how bleak it seems right now, how alone you feel, whatever you feel, this is not the rest of your life.  I promise you this: None of what you feel is wrong, and you will be OK.