Thursday, April 21, 2005

I should be in bed. She of all people would be shooing me upstairs reminding me I am sick and need more sleep. For a moment I caught myself wishing she were around to bake the cake, this most symbolic act of caring on a child's birthday, but surprised myself with how fast the follow-on arrived... she baked enough cakes while she was living thank you and deserves a break now. Honestly I think she must be quite exasperated with me already given how often she has to stop by and remind me to polish the silver (her way of telling me I'm letting my inner surfaces tarnish) but I'm grateful for each scolding.

The other time I can count on her to stop by is when I'm in the kitchen, always with little helpful reminders. We have an odd sort of dialogue every time I make stew, the meal our family most fondly associates with her. She regularly burned it in the pressure cooker, a small cooking disaster totally unlike her, a natural gourmet cook, and yet, it was still one of our favorite meals. When the pressure cooker comes out, she always seems to be spying on me, and I find myself apologizing to her when I don't burn it. This makes no sense, because one of the strange things about our relationship in her afterlife, if that is what you'd call it, is how non-judgmental she is of my actions. If ever a child craved unconditional love, it flourishes in the garden we share now. Now matter how heinous my thoughts it's always my conscious, not hers that condemns. Hers that redeems. As I type this I see the parallel to the sort of connection people feel to the Virgin Mother, the healing that comes from a mother's acceptance. Self love becomes more possible when cradled in this acceptance.

Sunday I wore her caftan, a long cotton bell-sleeved garment in amethyst with embroidered flowers. The first time in the six years since she died I've put it on. The same day I opened a card sent from my Dad, which he'd picked for the daffodils on the front, "to remind you of her favorite flower" he wrote. She has already pointed out the daffodils in my neighborhood I wanted to say, she has been commenting on them for the last couple of weeks, happy I filled a planter box with them last fall, now bursting in blooms. She is the daffodil, and the birthday cake, and the cough syrup, and the burnt stew, and the tears, and the lullaby, and the silver polish, polishing away the darkness on my insides until I glow again, as I always will in her eyes.

For Abdul-Walid, because the presence of the dead can be a gift.

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