I used to have a little ritual with my Dad. Before I went on a trip, I would call and let him know where I was going and what I was going to do. At the end, he would always say “thanks for calling” and I’d reply “thanks for being there”— until he wasn’t. It was one of the thousand ways I missed him when he left, no one to call from the airport, no one to call when I returned.
I didn’t have this kind of ritual exchange with my Mom, but the Home where she lived was often the first place I visited when I came back from a trip, often directly from the airport. It’s going to take a little while to re-route my way of thinking after six years of plotting and planning when I’d make the next visit.
Today I biked to Crissy Field and sat on a bench looking out at the water, the Golden Gate Bridge to my left, Alcatraz to my right. The Spring winds were blowing, but the sun was still shining and the world felt luminous and cheerful. Earlier, I had uploaded some wonderful photos of my 2010 jazz class playing music at the Jewish Home and came across the one above of me kissing my mother. Such a happy way to remember her! And with that image in my mind, I felt her presence next to me on the bench and had the thought that unencumbered by her body, she was free to be with me more than before. Of course, it’s not the same without the kisses on her warm cheek or the vibration of her voice, but it’s still real.
And so about to board my first flight without both my parents on this earth, I feel oddly buoyant, singing the old song “We’ll travel along, singing our song, side by side.” I know the sadness will be back and I welcome that as well, but in the New Orleans scenario, I’m dancing back from the burial ground to joyful music. All the way to my seat on United on my way to Halifax, Nova Scotia.