the missing


we have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.

– May Sarton

things go missing: gloves, mittens, hats, money, memories. typically they turn up with time. it’s the waiting that makes the missing so difficult to bear. the wanting. the needing.

i’ve been missing my mom. this is nothing new, but these days it comes with such a strong force that i have to end my day early or get lost in a book or wrap myself in magenta scarves that remind me of her favorite colors. the missing is normal, but what is surprising is that through this missing and loss i’ve created some sort of portal to memories. this feels like magic to me because for a long time, i feared that i had forgotten her voice. (until a song or phrase she used to say pops into my mind, and there it is, her voice, clear as day.) the other day something tickled my funny bone so hard i was in tears trying to explain my laughter. i could barely catch my breath and from the couch i heard her say “lord love a duck!” and it was like she was right there with me on the couch, laughing til she cried as well. oh man, those moments are gifts. it’s like talking to her in a dream, except i’m awake.

so, somewhere in the middle of this missing i’ve been channeling her. it’s a very specific feeling of her presence within me, it comes at different times while parenting three boys these days. it stops me in my tracks, an immediate memory of her pops into view. her as my mother. me as a child, witnessing rambunctious boys wear her down. as a child i saw her at her wits end, but now as an adult sharing that sentiment… she is simultaneously within me, as the mother. my peer. my equal. and it makes me miss the insight she could share with me today, woman to woman. mother to mother. the questions i have for her, the many phone calls i would make to her, the listening she provided, and the reassurance she could inflict with a tone of voice.

today it nearly knocked me over, in the middle of the morning rush to school, in the sea of bickering and bad moods and who said what and who did what to whom… i heard and saw her, from within me. you see, she had this whistle. and it was like nothing else i’ve ever heard. she could put her fingers to her mouth and slice through anything with that sharp shrill and extremely loud whistle. she called us in from the neighborhood with that whistle. it traveled great distances. and it meant business. (did your mothers say that? “i mean business!”) and boy did it stop everything in its tracks. she could crack the house into silence and obedience with that whistle.

this morning i heard it, and she was right there next to me, stepping in the shit and getting muck on her boots. and knowing she had done all this before reassured me that i could do it too. and even though i wish i could speak to her to find out just exactly how she did it, it’s enough to have her guidance through these memories that arrive just when they are needed.

so, thanks mom. i’m feeling your presence. i’ve been missing you.