This was inspired by the following writing prompt. You are given the opportunity to talk to one dead person and tell him/her one thing that you didn’t get to before they passed away. Who would you pick and what would you tell him (or her, of course)? If you have a similar story, please share below.

Without a doubt, if there was one person no longer living that I could have one more conversation with it would be my mother. My mom passed away December 11, 1998. As cliché as it is to say, I can’t believe it’s been so long since she left. I was a 16 year old boy when she died and today I’m 28 year old man. Quite a lot has changed since then and unfortunately quite a few things remain the same.

One of the many things I’m thankful for was my mom passing down her love of music. As a kid the last thing I wanted to do was practice the piano, play drums in the band, or sit through my sister’s singing and piano recitals. Going to plays and other musical shows weren’t my idea of fun either, but I went and while I was distracted with my own complaining the appreciation for all types of music was brewing in my subconscious.

Through her, I learned to relate to life through lyrics. I can remember my mom telling my brother and sister and I when various songs reminded her of us.  The songs sticking out right now are Ballerina Girl by Lionel Ritchie being my sister’s song and Todd Rundgren’s Bang on the Drum All Day being mine.

Another song that reminded my mom of me was Tori Amos’s Winter. The album this song was on released in February of 1992. I wasn’t even 10 years old yet, but somehow she was able to see what kind of person I had the potential to grow into. As a kid, I had no idea what the lyrics meant. All I knew was that they sounded pretty and my mom liked them and that was good enough for me. It’s scary to see how accurate my mom was now that I’m old enough to understand the message behind this song. It’s also very disheartening that the fear she had as a parent ended up coming to fruition.

Some of my favorite lyrics from this song are below:

When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast

When I read those lyrics and I think about my mom telling me they remind her of me as a 10 year old boy it’s a bit shocking. All she wanted was for me to learn to love myself. At 28, I’m afraid I’m still as far away from getting to where she wanted me to be as I was 18 years ago. I’ve never thought highly enough of myself. No matter what I was doing I never gave my all because I knew someone would be better.  I was content to sit on the bench in sports, get C’s in school, and watch girls end up with guys that wouldn’t treat them right all because I was convinced nobody would ever pick me or that I couldn’t be the best.

Hair is gray and the fire is burning
So many dreams on the shelf
You say I wanted you to be proud of me
I always wanted that myself

And here I am, 28, single, college graduate, good job, and I still have no idea what I want. Or maybe I do know what I want but I’m afraid to go for it. I’m afraid to put myself out there and be let down and hurt again. I’m really trying to reach that break through point. I’m doing almost everything “they” tell you to do to get out of the rut I’m in. But I’m still stuck.

If I could talk to my mom one more time, there isn’t any one thing I’d want to tell her. She knew I loved her. But if I could talk to my mom just once more I’d want to ask her a simple question. Am I going to be okay? There is nothing on earth I’ll ever miss more than my mother’s reassurance. My mother is the one person that always believed in me no matter what.

I hear a voice you must learn to stand up
For yourself cause I can’t always be around

Eighteen years after she originally told me about this song, I finally realize what she was trying to say. I can’t keep waiting for my mom to come around and tell me everything is going to be okay. She isn’t here anymore. I need to be strong enough to stand up for myself and go for the things I want. The only person that ever needs to believe in me is me. And if there is something I want out of life, it’s up to me to grab it myself.

Mom, I bet you didn’t think telling 10 year old me about this weird Tori Amos song was going to have much impact on me. You probably thought it was going to go in one ear and out the other. But I remembered. I can even remember the parking lot we were sitting in when you told me. Thank you so much for being the mom you were. I’m still learning new things from you all the time even if you aren’t here talking to me.