Dear Aunt Doris,
I can't believe it's been a year since I saw you last. So much has happened, both good and bad. Today is Mother's Day, and it wouldn't surprise you to know that Mom hasn't so much said a word since last year when we all called her to beg her to come to your funeral and she declined.
I'm sorry for a lot of things; I'm sorry your sister wasn't a part of your life for the past fourteen years. I'm sorry that you and you alone had to take care of Nonna. I'm sorry for everything with Tommy and Mary and Adam, and just all of it. I am so sorry I wasn't there for you over the years, it never occurred to me that you might've needed me as much as I needed you. I'm so sorry for what my dad did to you, even though I know there was nothing I could do to prevent it and it wasn't my fault. I'm still sorry.
I will always remember your regal laugh and your beautiful home, your bright red nails and your will to do whatever it took to make sure I was comfortable. Not only comfortable, but happy. You treated Jay and Justin like they were your sons. You treated Ariel and me as though we were your daughters. You were the only adult in my young life who seemed wholly pleased with me and eager to talk to me. Even when I was young I wanted to be like you. I wanted to be the cool older sister who had nice clothes instead of rags, who would go out of her way to help her family.
A lot of women have tried to convince me to call them "Mom." None of them have ever lived up to my expectation of what a mother should be, except you. Though what happened to me was for the best it doesn't change the fact that I always wanted you to kidnap me, to show up magically one day and teach me how to live like a normal person. And show me what it was like to be able to feel and show appreciation, to laugh and joke and gossip and paint each other's nails and be truly happy with my family. I always wanted you to be my Mom. And I consider you the closest and realest thing to a mother I'll ever have or ever need.
Thank you so much for being so patient with me last year. Thank you for taking me in at a moment's notice. Thank you for everything you said, all the times you told me you were proud of me. Thank you for giving me Nonna's ring and Grandpa's dress blues. For all of the memories and pictures, for worrying about me, for cooking me dinner. I would do anything for you, I would do anything if it meant bringing you back. We were robbed of time together and I hate it.
I've been given very few opportunities in my life to genuinely love someone, especially someone from my own family. It's a strange feeling to know I'll never feel that secure again. A month was enough to be shocked that you accepted my atheism, that you understood why things were the way they were with me. Despite not being around for most of my life you knew me better than my own parents.
I miss you every day. I will never stop thinking about you, or dreaming about you, or missing you. I will always keep red nail polish to remind me of you, I will always hold my head high and be independent even when people hate me for it, I will always work hard for myself the way I've always worked hard. I will continue to travel and adventure and be brave and strong and happy like you were. I know that's what you would want, and I want to give you a reason to be proud of me. I know you wouldn't want me to cry and feel guilty the way I do, but I will do that anyway, because I love you so, so very much.
I hate my face because it looks like Mom's.
I love it because it looks like yours.
Happy Mother's Day.