Yesterday, I went to the sea to put a flower on Mother's grave. It's been over a year now since she died after a long illness and extended hospital ordeal. I thought I was ready for her death since I had "prepared" myself by anticipating its eventuality and noting the terminal disease Mother had fought for nine years. Of course, one can never be "ready." It was awful. It remains a great loss. So I went to the sea yesterday, Mother's Day Sunday. Dad sprinkled her ashes last year in Florida, a continent away, in Tampa Bay which connects to the Gulf of Mexico which connects to all the oceans.
I live near the Pacific. I picked a small lavender wild flower (Mother loved flowers). "Why," I thought, "why do this? What's the point?" Something inside me drove me on. I had to cross a busy highway barricaded with construction. I did not have much time (I was at work). The beach is wide at that point, and the water seemed so far away. I pressed on. The sand was loose and difficult to walk on. The sea was beautiful — blue, with long waves breaking a little way from shore and gently lapping the sand. Mesmerized, I approached the shoreline. Children were playing, running from the waves. I went to where the waves were just lapping the sand, stood a moment thinking of Mother, and gently tossed the tiny flower into a receding wave. It stayed stranded on the sand until another wave carried it out a little further. I watched several more waves move it about and almost did not see the big one. Rapid backward steps saved my feet from a dunking — all but the very end of the sole at the toe.
I had stood at, practically in, Mother's grave, and placed a flower, swallowed by the sea. I turned and walked back, deeply moved. My job brought me out to that shore again an hour later. The sea was very different. I knew it was not terribly physically different — the addition of one tiny flower to the vast ocean is surely not significant. Yet the sea looked and felt so very different for me. I had made a gesture out of love. I had done something for Mother's memory. I was a little more at peace. I felt she was too. I felt her presence, as if she were saying, "Thank you."
Thank you, Mom.
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