If I told you that’s the moment I ran out of that church and down the street until a stranger in a red Ford Bronco pulled over and said climb in, I would be lying. I wasn’t that brave. I looked into the kind brown eyes of the man who loved me and I said I do. I do take this man, tears of laughter streaming down my face.
Our mothers are the darkest mystery that shine above us, always calling us home.
It took me well into my twenties and my mother’s sister to tell me the truth, because in my family, secrets were locked into drawers and tucked under hooded eyes and they had a wall of shame built around them, so they were hard to break into.
Not having enough becomes a mantra, a creed, an ode – and you hear it everywhere – in church when the shove the basket toward your father, in your home, your friend’s homes, businesses, relatives, the women in line at the bank with small pieces of paper, numbers not adding up to need.
A year ago I was sitting poolside with a beautiful woman my age who was raising her grandson, because her son had died. I marveled at her love and commitment, and I remember telling her I couldn’t do what she was doing.
“You could do it, she said, trust me, you have no idea how strong you are until the time comes.” Then, I never thought my time would come.
And I know the whole night Makena was with my father she didn’t see his racism, his privilege, or the young boy who had lost his mother at five years old. She didn’t have his history.
She just saw the soul of him.
Witnessing Larry King get escorted out of Barney’s felt good, a little like revenge for what he did to my mother.
Because my left shoulder hurts from my grandfather’s violin. Because my knees belong to my mother.
My father’s boat settled a very long war waging inside him – whether or not he sacrificed enough for his family.
You more beautiful than I remember, your dress just a little too tight, a little too short, already forgiving yourself for being so late.
My song becomes a prayer – that my family and friends withstand the isolation and overcome their fear of death.
Here I was on Kauai, and there she was in hospice in New Jersey, and and why would she remember our death pact?
I thought of all the miles by brother pedaled trying to hold onto my mother’s faith for all of us.
The Rabbi pulled me onto his lap and told me about his God. He assured me his heart had healed.
When we arrived to the hospital, my grandmother was in a coma and three men were crying at the foot of her bed.
The real question was how do I protect my daughter from the parts of my mother that live in me?
I became restless for something I couldn’t find in a contract or a bank account, or between the thighs of a man.
My mother and I shared each other’s dreams, shadows, and every ghost who floated into our home.