You made her chai. You made her welcome. You made her feel at home. You made her feel like family.
You fed her hungry imagination. You soothed her restless eye for beauty. You reminded her, on her last day, of moments long ago with the people she loved.
You were her favorite places, our places. And she says: Happy Spring!
This morning, I knelt in front of the open porch door. The dark blue dawn air was cool. I did my best to breathe each breath, and hear the birds carolling, and the tires hissing smoothly in the street. When two geese flew overhead, they sounded so close, like they were strafing the eaves. Drank some coffee, read, ate. Knelt again to make this picture.
Later, I took the flowers to your favorite places, taking more pictures: of the daffodils placed where you might have seen them, of the people who would have been happy to see you today.
All this I did as a way of saying, “You may be gone, but your story is not over.”
Today was our last day together. By tomorrow, you will be a part of something Other, something Safe and Free, where I don’t know if I can reach you, but I am sure now that you can reach me. I have been writing this blog, in part, because there are a lot of people who love you and want to be sure to take good care of your memory; the blog has changed my life.
I was imagining the incredible concert you must be enjoying: Ella, and Peggy, and Duke, and Frank, and Mel, and Billie, and Django and The Man in Black – cutting the rug with your own Man in Black, and Bud, and your Man in the Red Shirt, too. He loved you. And those sassy beautiful Sister Girls, and the Mama and Daddy I know you had your own troubles understanding. It all makes so much more sense to me, now.
I love you mom. Thanks for Everything.
It’s not clear to me whether the butterfly or the magnolia is seeing its own reflection. Or maybe they are one and the same.
Her last birthday was spent at Borders on Zeier Road. “Tell me a story,” you said.
She described one of her earliest jobs, working at the hat counter, selling sprays of flowers and net to decorate blank hat forms.
As she painted the picture – bins brimming with bouquets and fruit and birds, ladies who simply couldn’t pass up a few pennies worth of millinery confections – enchanting us all, it seemed she had us eating from the palm of her hand.
But really, dear friend, she was eating from yours.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the joy it gave her to give the gift of that story, on her very own day, so many years later.
It is among my most precious possessions.
For, suddenly, I saw you there
And through foggy London Town, the sun was shining
There are many ways to manifest Butterfly Nature; forsythia was one of Mom’s favorites.
The Action you don’t want to do – you must. The Self you don’t want to be – you are.
And I know I am afraid that my worst fears and procrastinations are the howling, hungry predators of insecurity, need and selfishness. But truly they are not what I am afraid of.
What I am afraid of is that my courage is not equal to the beauty inside.
But you already knew that.
As if figuring out who the hell I am isn’t hard enough, the mystery of who she was lingers like the bitter skin of a kumquat, thin and tender, yielding a burst of sweetness to the slightest sharp pressure. And this imperative question has, by and by, revealed the outlines of something sweet, inside myself, beyond the sour rind, surprising no one more than me.
Butterflies surround us, but they are well hidden. Sometimes we are looking right at the butterfly in another, and don’t see it; then we catch a glimpse of our own, or in the shadow of someone we love, and we can see them everywhere.