Tuesday, February 07, 2006

At dinner last night, me and the roomies shared our highs and lows for the day. It came around to me, and I said the high was that today the pictures from my sister had arrived. I have decided to make a slideshow of my mother, so that it can be used if and when the situation calls for it. Jen, my sister, went through all the photo albums and piled in every single picture she could find and shipped it to me.

And when I got home, there it was. Should I open it? I asked myself. I mean, I did have to cook dinner. Well, shit, of course I opened it. And there she was.

Bright, smiling, Mom. It's as if the last four years had completely wiped her from my memory. Spending a week with her 24-7 before my senior year of college had probably put the icing on the cake. How strange it was now, to see my mom, vibrant no matter what her age, eternally captured in these solid photographs. She was here, and time stopped.

I looked through them all, once, twice, fifty times, each time smiling and saying "I remember that." Then I flipped over my graduation day from high school. My mom is grabbing ahold of me (as she always did in pictures) as if I was going to escape before the picture was taken. My dad stands next to her, doing his whole "I'm-gonna-smile-but-I-still-think-I-could-be-doing-better-things-than-getting-my-picture-taken" routine, yet this time he has a hefty smile on his face, as if he can't hold back his pride. Now, I don't mean to say my graduation from good ole' Simley High was anything special, but everything means something new and different in light of my mom.

I looked at the picture forever. My mom looked so good.

Seeing her of sound mind and body, showing off her goofy and confident smile, left me speechless. I had never seen her as I did last night.

I almost called her, wanting to tell her that I just got some pics from Jen and I wanted to reminisce and laugh about it with her. Then I realized, with the same force and intensity of a blow to the stomach, that she was gone. Holy shit, I miss her.

I called my dad to tell him about my slideshow idea, and he started to cry on the phone. The number of times my dad has cried in front of me totals close to zero. I asked him what he thought about the idea. There was a long pause, enough space in which to park a meditation session, and then - with that stretchy West Texas drawl that becomes even more apparent when he is introspective - he said, giving so much weight to each word that I swear to God it took him 5 minutes to say it,

"Son, I hope someday, 60 years from now, when you have lived a good life, you can understand how much I love your mother."


Man, I hope so too.

So, what was my low for the day? Obviously, it was getting those pictures in the mail. But what a wonderful gift I have in that parcel of mail. I can put together something that will honor my mother, so that we can celebrate who she was instead of mourning who she has become. It will still be hard, looking at those pictures, time and time again, trying to figure out how best to place them in a slideshow.

But if we could all only be so lucky. I get the chance to dive back into the past, to a place where my memories flow seamlessly through my conscience, and I can stay there as long as I want. I can take a break from dealing with, as a friend said, the "absurdity of the world we have somehow been made to cherish and transform."

But, sooner or later, we reenter that wonderful and fucked-up world, and all we can do is say, "Here I stand, I can do no other. So help me God."


At 12:11 PM , Anonymous Bethany said...

Jason ... After reading your post - my heart and mind are full, and yet, I'm not sure what to say. Except, that pictures are a beautiful look into the soul - and are amazing even in the fact that they capture a moment with those we love - and in this moment, they live forever... Which is why, I suppose, I keep a picture of all those I love within the pages of my Bible... Peace to you.


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