The picture you see was taken several years ago back when I was still hiding my grey hair and so much change, loss, and lots of other things not so sad had not yet happened. My mom was so happy in this photo and so was I. We took her to hear big band music near where we once lived in Florida and she was in heaven.
I’ve been working on a special photo album for her, gathering up pictures of people, places, and events in her life that we have shared over the years…and crying a lot. This photo, for some unknown reason, made me pause and think about how many horrid things happened after it was taken. My dad died, the grief of this great loss possessed all of us as if weights had been snapped onto every single one of our limbs. Then there were hospital stays, surgeries, bouts of depression, the realization that so many things would never be the same, and that in the end, no matter what happens, so much of life and its pains and joys really are processed alone.
My tears have been a mix of my own special blend of joy and sadness, kind of a like a drink that has several layers that changes with each sip you take. When you are in a beautiful moment, like watching your mom smile as she listens to Stardust, her all time favorite song, there is no space for wondering if we will be hit by a car on the way home, trip and fall in the parking lot, or have a heart attack in the bathroom. It’s just the first sip of that drink where we are happy and having a precious moment that we can remember every single time we look at the photograph or dig back and remember that night.
Life is made up of those moments, isn’t it? The message here is to sit in them, lather yourself up with the minutes of love and joy, and happiness and fun that you are wallowing in because we all know that in the blink of the eye as they say, it could all be gone. Back when I was a reporter and covering yet another horrid tragedy I would always pause for a few seconds and say, “They had no idea this was going to happen when they brushed their teeth this morning.”
There’s an inevitable end to the photos and there is no way to prepare for that is there? But for now there’s this moment that I am sharing with you in hopes that you will put down your phone, throw your head back, watch a cloud, or sip your own mixed drink and not think about another damn thing. Even the shitty moments are gifts but that’s a story for another time because right now I am remembering how my mom clapped her hands and made believe she was dancing in her chair.
And it’s time for the second sip of that lovely memory.