It's been a year. One year since I held her hands in mine. Her hands that used to make chicken soup when I was sick, and my peanut butter sandwiches for school lunches. The hands that scrubbed floors and did homework and wiped away rivers of tears. And applauded at dance recitals, choir concerts and school plays. The hands that used to help me cross the street, that wrapped themselves lovingly around every kitty that she had the chance to touch.
A year since I heard her say I love you to Julie and me. Despite her almost inability to speak in those last few hours before she passed, she was able to push out the words I love you multiple times.
A year since I saw those pretty blue eyes. Or felt her thick hair, or listened to her heartbeat as I lay my head on her chest. Our last motion together was her taking her final breath, an exhale that became my next inhale. I'll never, ever forget that moment.
What is a year, really? It's the time taken by a planet to make an orbit around the sun. And that measurement of this thing we call time has done nothing to dull the sadness, or shift the grief. It's just a way we humans experience our existence on this planet, in all its beauty and splendor.
Time. That ever confusing commodity, the one that we never have enough of when the situation is sublime, the one we can't hold on to, or recover, once it's slipped through our fingers.
I've had this ongoing internal dialogue about time that came in to focus when Joey passed away in 2002. I explored new depths with the concept when I turned 40 just a few years later. Is it any wonder that there are some songs that bring me to tears, chords and lyrics awakening cells within my body that ache to understand more about time? Similar to the shift I feel as spring begins to emerge, reminding me of the downward spiral we experienced leading up to Joey's passing. And now a new cellular dance has started, tethered to the year end holidays. Mom's cancer was diagnosed just prior to Thanksgiving in 2016. We buried her just before Christmas on December 17.
But for this moment in time, this December 12, I'll think not just of those days and minutes leading to her transition. There are far too many remarkable and ordinary instances that define MaryLou and I won't allow her passing to rewrite 83 years of her well lived life.
It's interesting how the mind switches from linear thinking to reviewing events in shuffle mode--a slide show of sorts. I hear her voice singing my name when I was a little girl, "Laura Lee, I love you." I can remember her asking First Grade Laura, "did those little hands work hard today?" Images flow of her with all of our cats, her rituals in feeding them or caring for them; always at least one curled up with her or supervising her as she went about her daily tasks. One of my favorite things to do was watch her get dressed to go out for dinner or to a party. Julie and I always wanted to be with her as she put on her makeup and selected her outfit. She eventually allowed us to help her by getting out her evening bag and shoes, or her jewelry. These are activities I undertake with the same cadence today.
The holidays bring on a different level of remembrance. Mom really loved to play Christmas music and decorate the house. It was a festive event and Julie and I loved helping her unveil the decorations that had been tucked away in the attic. We sang along with Glen Campbell and Peggy Lee, Sinatra and Dean Martin, the Chipmunks. As we got older, she started gifting to us our own decorations. I have multiple Snow Babies that she selected because they reminded her of me (Julie also received Snow Babies, hers matching her personality).
My Snow Babies, Mom's Santa shot glasses with assorted Christmas balls.
Some things just won't hold the same wonder or majesty again. Intellectually I know it's the cycle of life. Emotionally I continue to stretch my understanding of this plane and the next, the journey of the soul. The interconnectivity between this life and life everlasting. And as the river of tears flow, those hands that did everything to set me steady aren't here. I can't, in my human form, reach for them again. Yet I know rooted deep within me, deep inside the same cells that are searching for understanding, she is ever present. Not only do I have her DNA, I have love and compassion that she cultivated. Memories that continue to unfold and spin me around to instances that had gone underground as time has marched onward. I have her evening bags, other material possessions. And I will have her hand awaiting mine, beyond this earthly odyssey.
Here's to you, MaryLou. I miss you so.
This is Mom with my Uncle Harry at one of the Zaccardi weddings. I love it because you can see her beautiful smile. I have many photos to sort through and scan.
A sweet one, likely from her days as an American Airlines stewardess.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.
I'll meet you there.