First, happy Mother’s Day to my Mom, a superbly kind woman who deserves the very best every day and always.
Next, a story…
When my oldest went off for her freshman year of college nine years ago, one of her classmates went off to a campus in California.
From where, two days later, his parents got the call no parent should ever have to endure. A frat. A hazing.Â Alcohol.Â And their son was gone, just like that.
There was a huge outpouring of the community here at his memorial service, filling the local Children’s Theater where A. had performed, growing up.
There was nothing I could do in the face of a loss I could not begin to comprehend, this child who had survived leukemia as a toddler when so few did, this young man who’d volunteered with childhood cancer patients at the Ronald McDonald House to give hope to their parents as a survivor, this child who was supposed to LIVE!
Doing nothing was simply not fathomable.
So a lace stole came to be, in dark navy, soft kid mohair the color of midnight when the stars are faint–yet there. Black seemed too much; I wanted to hold out the promise of a lightening to come, someday and terribly far off but no less real, while acknowledging first the depth of the darkness. I wanted to give his mother a hug to wrap around herself when it was just too hard to take. Which was every single day.Â And I knew it.
And then I prayed to know when to take it to the boy’s mother, E., whom I knew but not well.Â I didn’t feel an answer to my questioning; the thing sat there for several months. It bugged me.
Then came the day when, as I had done many a time before, I said that prayer asking again, feeling like I was nagging God or something, when the answer came as a sudden emphatic feeling of NOW!
Oh! It was Mother’s Day and we were just about to sit down to lunch–could it wait till later?
But the feeling of Now! was so emphatic that I dropped everything on the spot, apologizing to my family for ditching them this day of all days, and ran with it halfway across town.
A.’s father was outside and told me E. was taking a nap, but he would give the wrapped present to her.Â Â …Meaning that E. wasn’t put on the spot having to appear grateful while trying not to burst into tears; she was able to absorb my note and my gift in private, and somehow, later, that seemed to me to be just as well. I hadn’t done it to stand there to be thanked.Â I would say now that the timing worked out perfectly, even though it didn’t seem so at first glance.
Later in the year, Rachel Remen gave a booksigning and I bought a copy of her “My Grandfather’s Blessings” for E.Â I explained to Dr. Remen briefly who it was for–there’s a story in there of a mom who’d gone through a similar loss, and I wanted my friend to know there was someone else out there who had gone through this and could understand, far better than I, for all my good intentions.Â I told Dr. Remen, “And now I have to pray to know…” and she, looking in my eyes and I in hers, said “when!” in unison.
Again I prayed. Again the answer came to me, at last, on Mother’s Day.Â And so I took it over, inscribed to comfort her from the author herself.
After that, I got a clue.Â I knew when to go.Â I showed up every Mother’s Day on E.’s doorstep. An amaryllis in bloom, the impossibly late last daffodil from my garden, a certain new book of which I was so proud, always something.
My younger daughter mentioned about my illness and hospitalization and her worries on Facebook this past winter, and E.’s daughter read it and told her mom. Which is how E. showed up in my hospital room, bringing me flowers, a visit, and a great deal of comfort that I never would have expected.Â She is dear to me.Â It meant much.
But she said something that distressed me: she told me I didn’t have to bring her anything on Mother’s Day anymore. But! But!Â Although, at the time, it didn’t entirely look like I’d be seeing any more Mother’s Days anyway.
I was on the phone with my son today when my doorbell rang.
It was E. standing there. Bringing ME flowers. And not only flowers, but a blooming plant to put in my yard to remember and think of her and enjoy. She had no idea whatsoever that I’d been wanting a hydrangea anyway in a somewhat bare spot in the yard there–it just happened to be what she felt I might like when she saw it. And I do. Oh, I do!
The light in the colors just bursts through.
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