Written by M.J.C
I waited for her to arrive. She was early, of course, and I was waiting. She usually arrived earlier than I did but on this occasion I was here first. I was at work, that’s why, but no matter because it still felt good.
I was a bit anxious. I was always anxious before seeing her and it was a good anxious in that I was both excited and nervous. I knew that those first moments talking would be a blur and that I’d just babble until I found my center in her presence.
I always did, too, right after we hugged.
She walked in and I stared at her walking. She saw me at a distance and smiled then gave a slight wave of her hand with her fingers moving just a bit. I always associated that semi-wave to how grade school girls wave, with their elbows pinned to their waist and their hands waving frantically. That’s not what she did, of course, but the slight waving of those fingers made me think of that.
She was sharp, of course. In pants and blouse; hair down, mid-level high heels. Her makeup in her style. A single gold necklace gently swaying down her front. I loved that necklace. Thin gold and the end was a gold leaf. She never explained what it meant to her and I never asked. It was just part of her and I loved it.
I liked to think she wore it for me on this day.
Her hugs were always full, warm, and a little longer than was necessary to an outsider.
She gave me life and energy and I received it in full and without thought. It was…beautiful. I smelled her hair as I always did when we hugged and I let it infuse me with my memories of a long ago life with her.
She smelled like happiness.
Hi Mom, how are you? How was your drive? You look pretty. How much time do you have? I’ve missed you. I said all of those things in quick succession so quickly that she just smiled.
She smiled at me, not for me, this time. I loved it.
I stopped so she could talk.
She was quiet, though.
Would you like some coffee, I interjected to help myself handle her stare and smile.
Yes, she said.
I jumped up and she stopped me. “Let me get it”, she said.
I directed her to the break room that was nearby. She told me to stay and she’d be right back. I followed her though, like I always did as a child and kid…and adult. But I gave her space.
Then I watched her. I always watched her. Other people were in the break room and within moments she was happily engaged in conversation and she lit up the room. Of course she did.
She was the center and folk were around her talking, laughing, complimenting her, and being in her circle.
I marveled at her ease with strangers and a small crowd. She was herself. Effortlessly engaging everyone at once, leaving no one to miss her like I would (was at that moment).
She laughed, shared short stories, there was friendly touching and there was a quick wink from her that was a tad flirtatious with another lady who seemed taken.
I’d seen this scene so many times. I emulated it as well, but I was never as good as she was in extending her presence and enveloping others into her warmth. Nor was I as good as she was with her subtle flirting.
But I recognized her skills now and enjoyed them even more.
No one noticed that she looked at me a couple times. I did though. She always did that for me when she knew I was near and staring. Gave me some of her energy from a short distance.
She finished making her coffee and laughed herself away and back with me. We walked side by side and our shoulders were touching with every other step.
You’re always touching me, she said quietly and with affection.
Yep. Always will, too. You love it.
YOU love it, she smiled-said back at me.
We sat down and she asked how I was doing, how work was going, and how Leah was doing.
She always got right to asking about Leah.
I said, “she’ll be twelve soon and she’s smart and sassy, quiet and sensitive. She is kind, loves all animals, loves her girlfriends, loves to read, and play video games.
And sing and act silly, and dance and laugh. And talk. She talks alot to me and asks a lot of questions and makes a lot of factual statements. She’s like you, in other words.
She rarely shows those sides though to most people. To the world at large, she’s an observer.”
“Observer,” she repeated back to me. I wonder where she got that from, Mom playfully asked?
“I have no idea.” I lied.
Mom said, “Well, twelve is another big step for her. If she’s like me, she’ll be questioning you and challenging you on everything. She’ll be sassy and she’ll want her peace and privacy, so give it to her. And then when she doesn’t want her privacy, give her all your attention. All of it.”
“Because if she’s like you were,” mom continued, “she’ll want all your attention when you’re awake and around her, and she’ll want you to sit right next to her, and give her all your looks, your love, your touches… all of it. All the time.”
I half-smiled and looked into her eyes. Not too directly, because that would mean I couldn’t see the rest of her and I couldn’t take that. So I looked and listened. I heard her fully. She talked of me when talking about Leah. She didn’t try to hide it and she knew I got her message.
She stood to leave.
“Wait, why are you leaving so soon? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, she said. It’s time for me to leave is all.”
“No. Wait. No, it’s too soon, I said, anxiety rising.”
She starting walking.
“Mom. Mom. MOM! Don’t go!”
She continued walking.
She was beautiful but I hadn’t told her this time.
“MOM! DON’T GO. DO NOT GO!”
She half turned her head and looked back half smiling but never breaking her stride.
“MOM! MOM!! DO! NOT! GO!”
I woke up.
I was panting and sweat covered my face and my t-shirt was wet and I was sitting up in bed having awakened myself screaming “MOM DO NOT GO” as loudly as I could.
And I was staring at her portrait. She looked back at me with her half smile.
And her necklace with the gold leaf at the end.
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