My mother died on an autumn evening in October, 2011. I don’t think there is a way to ready oneself for the experience of saying goodbye to the person who carried you into the world. In Ma’s case, it came upon us quickly. She and Dad called one day near the end of September to say “please come;” a late-stage announcement of the hideous disease that stole her from us.
In the years since my parents departed this place, he just eight months after she, I’ve often longed for their familiar and comforting presence and words of encouragement but never as much as in these last few months.
Preparing for the possibility of evacuating, a few days ago I opened a large stack of letters from my mother. I set aside a few and tossed the rest into the recycling bin; because it seemed silly to hold on to so much of the past. This afternoon as I emptied the recycling, one card had stuck to the bottom with its message staring back at me like a prophetic proclamation. “Try not to get so stressed out,” my mother wrote on March 3, 1988. “after all, you are a Rabbit!” (referring to my Chinese zodiac sign).
I laughed and I cried. My devout Lutheran mother was a complex person who followed both the scriptures and the stars. Thanks, Ma, for showing up with a much-needed message from home.