It seems like yesterday.
I won’t write in length about her, because I have before, mainly here, and many of you have read about her and made very kind comments that have meant the world to me.
But I think about her almost every day. And, to paraphrase a line from the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” which I watched back-to-back on telly recently, “Sometimes I miss her so much I could almost die.”
I don’t dream often about my mother – or my dad or Stimpy, for that matter. I wish I did more often.
But last week for whatever reason, she chose to enter that dream world.
I don’t remember the entire scenario – I believe looking for something, some sort of searching was involved. I returned to what I suppose was an apartment and decided to go back down the elevator. When the door opened to get on, my mother got off.
I burst into tears and we hugged each other.
And when I woke up, right after that, tears were streaming down my real-world face as well.
I’ve thought about that dream a lot, because what was interesting to me – in retrospect – was that she “looked just like herself.”
“Who else?” you might ask.
Well, my mother had lots of looks. There were the ones I never knew in person – the little girl…
The teenager at the lake.
The high school senior.
The newlywed, on her honeymoon.
The young mom, all pretty and stylish.
There was the mom of my childhood – young as well, but 30ish. (Yes, I was the kid who went to Show and Tell and told the class my mother turned 40. I was so proud and I couldn’t understand why she cried. I wonder if she’d known how soon she would leave us, if she would have cried about such a silly thing as a birthday.)
The mom of my teen years – we really got on, and I felt so lucky, because some of the kids I knew didn’t get on with their moms.
The Christmas mom.
The mom who laughed all the time and loved me, my dad and her sisters and their families with a powerful energy and warmth.
The mom who went to England with me, who did brass rubbings, who fell asleep in the theatre which she dearly loved. We ran ragged during that trip – neither of us realized then that the ovarian cancer that would overtake her three years later had already started to take its course.
My mom, who never got a present she didn't adore!
The brave mom, who handled the seizures that came when her cancer metastasized into her brain with relative good humor. Who welcomed guests to her hospital room with such joy and grace and that you would have thought you were coming to the house for tea.
The one who seldom complained as the disease ate away at her body. But that same disease couldn't destroy her soul.
When I think of cancer, I think of this – the seizures, the pain. It frightens me in ways I can’t always explain. And I wish I'd been old enough to ask, "Are you afraid?" "Tell me things..."
The mom who stepped off the elevator in the dream looked much like this mom – the brave one, with her prednisone face, her frosted-blondish wig, her smile. All five feet of her. The one whose photo I snapped with my dad, two or three weeks before she died, doing her best to look good for us.
My mother was frozen in time, and it’s the way I think of her most. It’s not unlike how we think of Princess Diana or JFK or Elvis. One pose of image that is almost iconic.
For me, the Elvis image is the white suit with the spangles; the Diana image (images is probably a better term) is in a smashing gown (generally that black cocktail dress she was photographed in the night of Prince Charles’ television interview, or a wonderful purple gown). For JFK, my image the man playing with his children in the Oval Office or with the wind blowing back his hair on a yacht at Hyannis Port.
Frozen in time. Never to get older, to have the lines and wrinkles, the cottage-cheese thighs or the extra chins that seem to come our way every day, no matter how well we try to disguise them.
This year I will turn the age my mother was when she died. It’s a weird feeling. She was 58; I just want to get through that year. I want to do the things I haven’t done; experience everything. And with joy.
Because I know life can be cut so very short.
I miss you, mom. But you taught me well.
Do you have an "iconic image" in your heart of someone you loved?