Six years ago this past Thursday you were telling me your plans. You were going to go shopping for a dress to wear to “which of the girls is getting married again?”– and how they were releasing you from the dementia unit, because you no longer could see the trees moving, even though they still aren’t trees like up “there”, no, the trees down “here” they have “pulley systems underground” unlike the deep roots we have up in the Midwest. But, you’re not going to talk about that anymore because the trees don’t move for just anyone, “isn’t that strange?”
And I told you that Rick and I were going to do some planting, and prepare for our second annual honeymoon down to Marco Island the following week. You wanted me to make the trip up to see you in your new place and look at all the scrapbooks you were making for us. And I said maybe that would be cool. And you said, “What would be cool?” And I said, “Driving up from Marco to see you and your new place and scrapbooks.” And you began to stutter and said, “Oh, I didn’t know you were coming down, we can get a room for you. So, now when are you coming again?”
You told me how good it would be to see us, and you would show us to everyone.
I told you I’d call on Mother’s Day and we’d talk some more
When Mother’s Day came, we went to church and then shopping for new sneakers for me, since my old pair had seen some miles, and then I ran to church for a meeting and wasn’t able to get away until 8–that’s 9 your time, and so instead of calling you and waking you, I decided to wait and call you the next day.
But, I am the one who got the call. In the early morning, as dawn’s fingers slipped through sleepy tree limbs, waking the birds–their song, and the scent of lilacs filled the air. The sun tangled in my hair, as Brinkley and I walked along, my sneakers shiny and new, and my cell rang, breaking the spell of the dawning of a new day as I fumbled in my pocket. And from the voice telling me that you were gone. “How? I just talked to her on Thursday.”
“She just fell asleep and died, Bonnie.”
The silence came then, mom. The silence you always waited for because I chatted all the time, but it took your death to bring it. I could not form words anymore, mom. I couldn’t think, Brinkley led me back home that day, or maybe I’d still be out there wandering six years later.
You managed to get your way, per usual, and that had to bring a smile to your face. I did come to see you, Twinsie made me. I didn’t want to come, I didn’t want to see you with no breath in you, no sparkle in your eyes, no smile.
But, you lay there like Sleeping Beauty. Your pale skin was taut, your lips just the right shade of lipstick. Your hair had been done on Friday, and everything about you was beautiful. The sunlight peeked through slate gray clouds and shone on you like a beam from heaven. We could hear the angels sing, mom. Crazy, right?
They say peace is something we will never truly know, but you did. You had it there on that gurney with the sunbeam from heaven. The peace that passes all understanding.
The scrapbooks, or better, the bunch of papers with a sentence here, and a sentence there, are still in the suitcase we brought back with us. Silent as our voices were, they remain untouched.
I just wanted you to know that I miss you. I wish I’d known that you needed help with your memories and getting them down on paper. I mean gosh, you wrote whole histories about presidents and others. I didn’t know that you were robbed of the memories that meant the most.
On this day, in a few hours, the anniversary of your death will come upon me, and my sisters, and my brothers. We will all feel it differently or maybe not feel it at all. But, I will feel it, mom. I will remember, and I will cry, and the silence will come like the night quiets the birds, and it will be peace that I will feel, knowing you are safe, whole, healthy and strong.
Not as Sleeping Beauty, but as an angel.