The year and the day are lost on me when it comes to pinpointing my first memory of my mother slipping elsewhere. I was at the cabin. I picked up the phone to her insistence that someone made a mistake. Why would they deliver the Sunday paper on a Monday? She was confused, distraught.
I have two memory segments of my mother: before the unraveling began, and after.
Before she unraveled. The crossword puzzles, her amazing composure, her strength, her sense of humor, the way she held a glass of Scotch, the way she dressed and encouraged me to dress, how she felt my forehead for a fever, her vocabulary, her math skills, her Chanel No. 5. Her energy and dedication. Her passion. The way she said my name out loud. The silly old bear we shared. The many times she told me, You can be anything you set your mind to be. Her incredible success as a business woman. My friend's father once said of her, She plays hard ball with the big boys.
But there is the other chapter, the pages upon pages in which she unraveled. Her sleepy, halo eyes, her grabbing hands, the way her skin turned to lace. The days of bathing her, feeding her strawberries. The days of her being my precious baby bird. The days of my reading Winnie the Pooh books to her.
Earlier tonight, I watched a Metro bus roll down the street, stirring bits of debris, a paper cup, pieces caught in the air and landing again on the sidewalk and street. It was a lonely sight and for a moment I was lost in it, but then I remembered you. I remembered the friends who called me today and I remembered how blessed I am.
It does not matter, the dates. The calendar is created by people, not the Lord. The truth is that time moves without a thought of us, on and on it rolls. And we, we assign dates to remember, that don't really exist. What I've learned is that when we lose someone, they are gone. Save for what we carry with us. What I've learned is that they DO live on, in our lives, our hearts, our behaviors and decisions.
Even tonight, when she's been gone a year, even now my heart is filled with love for her. I rejoice in that love. The love of my mother. The love of a chosen daughter.