She was in the room. I felt her in my mind and saw her with my heart. She was right over there, near and untouchable. Radiant but subdued; bright but in shadow.
She remained beautiful.
“What are you doing?” she asked quietly.
I was quiet. I knew the always-ready response I had used all throughout my childhood in response to this question which she had asked thousands of times.
“Staring at you” I finally said, like I was supposed to.
I felt her slightly smile. But there was also pity in her smile.
“I love staring at you, Mom, you know that. I’ll never stop.”
“I know; it’s okay. Thank you” she replied.
I didn’t recall her ever saying thank you during this conversation we frequently had.
I paused to stare again. What was I missing? She was there before me but something was off.
I started an inventory:
No shoes and her toe-nails which were not painted. That was odd, but not too odd I reminded myself.
She was wearing a white nightgown that was very soft, by the looks of it. I wanted to touch it; touch her.
Her hands were soft and they smelled of the original Jergen’s Cherry Almond lotion.
How did I know that I wondered?
“Stop thinking and just do inventory.” I told myself.
She wore no jewelry.
It didn’t seem like she had makeup on, but I couldn’t be certain.
Her lips were full. Was that lipstick?
Her eyes were hers; light brown, direct, challenging, loving.
I held her stare as best I could, then looked down to her nightgown.
The nightgown dipped from her neckline and the sleeves, while loose, only fell slightly below her elbow.
The nightgown wasn’t white; it was off-white I think. I stared at it; at her.
“Sweetie, what are you doing?” She asked again.
But neither her tone nor her volume changed.
“Nothing. I miss you.” I replied.
“I know you do.” she replied, and I could see her smile again. It wasn’t pity this time. It was honest.
“You always said you’d always think of me, didn’t you.” she asked.
“Yes, I did tell you that. I’ve never stopped, either. I think about you every day. Every single day.”
“You used to, but not anymore.” she said, calmly.
I felt confused. Then guilty. Then resolved.
“I’m sorry.” I offered earnestly.
“Please don’t.” she said sternly. You finally have a reason. She’s beautiful. I love her, too, and I watch her, just like you watch her. And liked you used to watch me.”
I felt relief. Absolution.
“It is as it should be. Besides, I’m always here, as you know.”
“I do know, Mom, but I still want to think about you every day and keep my promise.”
“Do you think about her every day?”
“Yes, I sure do.” I replied with a smile.
“And how often do you think of me now?” Mom said in her mom-voice that told me she knew the answer.
I thought for a moment. Every other day.
She smiled a big smile. I smiled her same smile back to her.
“Thank you, she said as she began to dim.
I felt warm liquid escape my eyes and slowly drift down either side of my face leaving a warm trail on the sides of my head.
I was waking up and didn’t want to.
I looked one more time and this time Mom was close to me, hand reaching out to my face where my tears were still languishing.
I smelled her hands as she gently touched my tears and carried them away while leaving her cherry almond aroma in their place.
© 2020 by Myron J. Clifton. All Rights Reserved.