I both love and hate this time of year. I love the cool days and chilly nights, the way that I think about cooking and comfort and the warmth of home. And those three things always make me think of my mother, my childhood home.
But last year and yesterday, on October 26, I think of my mother. I think of the last time I drove over to see her, on that date, in 2008. She knew I was coming, or she had known earlier in the week. By the time the date arrived, she had forgotten, though. She was sleeping in her bed, but I could tell that she had been up, earlier. I stood in the doorway and watched her sleep that day, just for a few minutes. Even in her sleep, I could see the fatigue and tired in her face. I could see the too many years of physical pain, the emotional toll that all of it had taken in her sleep-expression. I wish so much that I had known that I would not see her again, not alive. I stood there, unsure of whether I should wake her or just let her be, but she soon woke up, and sat up and was genuinely surprised that I was there. She said "well bless your heart". In that instant, my heart was flooded with love for her. For some reason, that moment took me back to the days of when I was small, when she was the center of my world, the only light in a world of darkness. She was a tiny spitfire. In the blink of an eye she could become a giant, one to hide from, to run from, one that could break a heart in 2.3 seconds...because to disappoint her or make her mad was the worst thing that could happen, ever. But usually, I made her proud and I made her happy, and that was what I wanted to do forever. And heaven knows I tried. And she loved me. For every stupid thing I ever did, to every time I honestly tried and failed, to every success, she loved me. She loved me through so many things. I knew always, that no matter how badly I behaved or how bad I blew it or how long I had to retreat to the corner to lick my wounds, that she was there for me. Without fail, without question, without conversation. Oh, she would always take the opportunity later to say with humor, what a dumbshit I had been or how stupid that particular thing was, but she always had my back. And oh, how we could laugh. Often, our time together was spent with tears in our eyes and aches in our muscles from laughing at our own stupidity. But at the end of her time, the laughter was mostly gone, she was in so much pain, her heart ached. And mine ached just looking at her. She was tired and worn down and ready to go and meet her Creator. She looked forward to that day, she told me. But I was not ready to let her go, not just yet. Oh, I knew it would be better for her, but I was being selfish, because really, who on earth will ever think we are the world's gift to human kind, other than our mothers? Who will ever believe that we are just that special, other than the one that gave us life? Who else can see the markings of a three year old with a crayon and construction paper as the next Picasso? Only our moms. I spent most of my life wanting the honest to God best for her, and tried like hell to see that she had it. I would have given her the entire world if only I could have. Because when I was small and scared and mostly alone, she was my only light. She was my salvation. And if I do say so myself, she taught me all I needed to know, to get by pretty well. She certainly taught me the importance of being a mother. And you know, she told me once that was all she ever wanted to accomplish. I didn't get it at the time, but I do now. Oh how I miss you mom. But I know that you are happy and good and dancing and singing and loving your life now. I know I will see you again one day. I can't wait to sing with you again.