It is Mother’s Day again. I look at your brother and sisters and am reassured that my capacity for love didn’t wither when you died. Your death drilled down to my core and I wondered if I’d ever trust the Universe with another of my children. I didn’t have to wonder long, my love for you and your siblings fueled my maternal heart. My resolve to be present and let anyone who asked know that I will always be the mom of 4 crystallized my path of healing. I see you in Merrick, Lindsay and Kendall. Your humor, smile, stubbornness, quick wit and sense of fairness plays out in glimpses that let me know you are never too far from any of our thoughts.
This morning there was a soft knock on the bedroom door and Kendall stepped in with a mug of coffee and a hug for me. Merrick sprang from his room when he heard me in the hallway and enveloped me in a hug brightened by his smile and his deep voice, “Happy Mother’s Day Mama.” Lindsay was downstairs making breakfast and smiled and hugged me when she saw me. When we sat down to breakfast your dad said grace as we all held hands. Looking around the table I felt a mixture of gratitude, nostalgia and melancholy. Where has the time gone? No matter how much time has passed, you are with us, a part of our family circle. “Amen,” rang out around the table, and softly, just for me, I said, “Jordan, Merrick, Lindsay, Kendall.” As we released each other’s hands, my hand was still reaching for yours. I imagined bringing your hand to my face and feeling your knuckles graze my cheek before I planted a quick kiss. I’ve had 8 mother’s days since you died. The dread of the early years has softened. The day as are the days leading up to it bittersweet and I’m learning to embrace and not be surprised that joy, sadness and longing can reside in my heart compatibly, if I let them.
I’m still learning how to comfort the maternal part of me that surfaces at times and is primal in its insistence that the only way it will be quieted is by your physical presence. The need to hear your voice, hug you and find some forgotten sign of life from you are overpowering. In the early days and months after you died I would hold your pillow, inhaling any remnants of your smell until my heartache subsided. The pillow lost your scent years ago and I’m okay. I’ve memorized your essence, it’s decoded and stored with my own DNA. I carry you with me and find ways to sit with you hold you and hear your voice. I dream of you, sitting with us at the table, listening intently as your voice dances with excitement at seeing old friends at your 10- year high school reunion. Sometimes, there’s a baby, your child, my grandchild, perched on my lap as we laugh and talk, regaling your wife with Jordan stories. I imagine the rhythm of our table talk injected with the energy of new life and new memories.
For this Mother’s Day, I’ll sit under your tree, knowing that the shade is my hug from you. When the leaves rustle I’ll know it’s your voice. I’ll look up through the maze of branches, and the kaleidoscope made by sunlight shining through the leaves will be the brightness of your smile. Your tree stands tall just as you did. It towers over me and I marvel at how it’s grown. I’ll bend down at the base and pick up a hand full of soil. My thoughts as always will drift back to the day I rode my bike to the young tree when it was first dedicated to the park and pulled the Ziploc bag that held some of your ashes from my pocket. I mixed them with the soil determined to have you represented in every branch. Your tree is one of the places I find you, our sacred space. I will always be your mother; you will always be my son. And this Mother’s day like the past 7, your tree is my reminder of how the seasons change and life continues. Spring always comes and we keep going.