When I first moved to Chicago, I was a nanny. For three years I took care of a little boy, Noah. I cared for him deeply. I didn’t always have the easiest relationship with his mom, Michelle. She wasn’t the most reliable employer, but I loved Noah, so I stayed. Eventually I got offered a full-time position with my bookstore job, so I had to leave.
Before I moved back to Texas, I ran into Michelle at a doctor’s office. We talked for a bit and arranged for me to spend an afternoon with Noah. It was so great seeing him. Only a year and a half had passed, but somehow he had grown up. I loved talking to him and hearing about his life.
I realize years later that I could have kept in touch once I moved. It wouldn’t have been difficult. Yet for some reason I didn’t. It’s strange how things occur to you too late.
As I was preparing to move from Michigan to Chicago, I found Michelle on Facebook and decided to send her a message. After studying her page I discovered that she was ill. She had been ill for a few years and was in and out of the hospital quite often. I wrote her to say that I was moving back, I’d love to catch up, and that she was in my prayers. I never heard back, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t make me a little sad. I had genuinely wanted to see her, but I understood if a.) too much time had passed and/or b.) she had too much going on.
I deactivated my personal Facebook account over a year ago, but since I’ve taken over social media for my job I decided to search for her using my work page. She hadn’t been active for over a year, and I felt a knot in my stomach. I then found Noah’s page, and it was there that I discovered that she had passed away. I sat, completely numb, for a few minutes. She was only three years older than me. She had two boys. Why?
Since discovering this news, I’ve been debating on contacting Noah and reaching out. I’ve enlisted the advice of my mother, my friends, my boyfriend. Their words are all the same-what harm could it do? Yet I’m scared, of what I don’t know.
I see Michelle’s face everywhere. I do double takes, only to realize that the woman I think is her doesn’t resemble her in any way at all. I don’t know what this means. It used to happen with my father. If I’m being honest on occasion it still does. I see my grandmother, too. Maybe it’s only natural.
But why Michelle? Is this a sign that I should reach out to Noah? To tell him I’m sorry and that I’ll always be here to talk?
I wish I had the answer.