In these passing days, months and years I see you everywhere. I see you in my neighbor’s mom who comes three days a week to take care of her grandson. I see you in my other neighbor, two doors down, during a spring dinner of tomato-basil soup in the company of her two adult daughters and three grandchildren. I see you arm and arm with mothers and daughters of every age--passing me by in streets, cars, coffee shops and grocery stores. I even see you in the arguments, bickering and misunderstandings between my closest girlfriends and their mothers. You float through these scenarios like the minuscule windblown seeds of dandelion puffs I’d make a wish on and then blow away as a kid.
I’m often angry and sad by the scattered pieces of you left behind; tiny indiscriminate parts of you I can never quite grasp. All the moms and daughters, their abundant love, anger, and other oozing communal emotions bring me to my knees. I cry without abandon as I tote my 2-year-old twins across the parking lot thinking, she was robbed. My little brother was younger than they are now when you became sick. You would have unwillingly forsaken holding his small body against your own. Already, pieces of you are separating from the whole, and the only wishes being made are the kind that can’t come true.
I think about my friend who recently lost her mother. We sit on the couch and she says, “No one can replace her.” And I wonder, is there a hint of question in her words? Or, is the question my own? For in my own past I spent many years petitioning a stand-in for you. At times I’d bathe in a feeling close to Mom, but inevitably it evaporated into misty disappointment. It wasn’t fair to put the unwritten expectation on them. It’s impossible to replace the irreplaceable. Sooner or later my unattainable expectations of them would squelch us both and one or both of us would recoil, our relationship withering like the limbs of the ill-fated Wicked Witch of the West. Sometimes you can never return to Kansas.
Still, I’m doing alright by myself, and really if I think about it, I’m not alone. Not by a long stretch. And somehow, I find myself seeing you in different light. I see you as I rock my fussy girls to bed. I see you in the man who loves me unconditionally ever reiterating, everything is gonna be okay. I see you in your namesake as she stubbornly undermines me … again and again. I see you in my friends: In Liz who somehow never ceases to hear out my increasing lamentations (about everything) and picks up where you left off as writing sage and mentor. I see you in my friend Lori who always seems to bring me dinner or treats at the right time. I see you in Lauren, Natalie and Rhonda, who despite the many miles between us, always return a phone call, offer a kind word and tell me I’m a great mom, especially when I don’t feel like one. They do not replace the irreplaceable, only enhance the willingly enhanceable.
You float through these scenarios like the minuscule windblown seeds from dandelion puffs I’d make a wish on and then blow away as a kid. My heart is happy now because every tiny seed is a testament of your love for me, and like every good seed, you can be everywhere and I don’t have to hold you in my palm to know it. The peace in my heart tells me that for every piece of you floating through parts of my life that I can’t reach, the stem of you—the part that held everything together, still holds strong. It holds my ideals, my beliefs, my friendships, my children, my family, and it holds … me. Perhaps wishes do come true—although not in the way we imagine they will.