Mom loved riding in the car. She talked with me more, engaged with me more, when we were in the car together. I think this was a legacy of the necessarily long car drives she and my dad made on a regular basis out in West Texas. Iraan, the tiny town in which we lived, was -- as everyone joked -- 300 miles from EVERYWHERE.
Highway near Iraan
On our drives, Mom would comment on the clouds -- Texas has fantastic cloudscapes -- or on the flowers in someone's yard. She loved hearing about my garden, so every Saturday, I would walk the garden making mental notes of things to tell her about at our Sunday lunch. She especially loved hearing about the plants that I had moved from her garden. If she were still here, tomorrow I'd be telling her about the pink plumeria that finally bloomed after three years and showing her the photos I took with my phone.
It took nearly a two-day drive just to get out of the state of Texas. So my busy parents found this time in the car as precious space in which they could talk, undisturbed except by the necessity to admonish the four of us squirreling around in the back seat to quiet down or -- ultimate threat -- "I will have to stop this car!"
The only thing she loved hearing about more than the garden was news about Daniella, or about her great-grandsons, Curran and Gavin. As she did with all her great-grandchildren, she thought they were perfect and among the most intelligent beings on the planet.
On our drives she would talk to me about things she had read, or been thinking about. These were precious times to me, because as she got more frail, she got quieter, less inclined than ever to join into the boisterous conversation that characterizes our family gatherings. She was never one to talk a lot, so when she did, we all listened, because it was always a pithy, cogent observation. She didn't miss a thing.
It was on these car drives that she began to talk to me about how ready she was to die. Not that she didn't love us, but she was just tired -- and lonely. She missed my dad so much.
She told me she had had long conversations with God on the subject of her death. She told God how ready she was, how she was sure we would be OK if she left us for awhile.
I would listen and assure her that, yes, we would be OK, that she knew we would miss her terribly but we would be OK.
It's not OK.
Mom, I saw this butterfly in the garden the other day.
That's how I feel. I'm missing part of one wing.