Rotary makes me cry. I have, and I am not exaggerating here, cried at 4 meetings. I don’t mean the kind of sarcastic, how is it that I am old enough to be here kind of figurative crying, though there is that. I mean the kind of crying that has me looking around the table with panic and thinking, “These tears are not going to be choked or blinked back.” Thursday was the first time I truly feared it was going to go the ugly, snotty route. I was sitting with 7 other people, 2 men and five women. The conversation was dancing from Haiti to Facebook and I allowed myself to drift in and out. When the Facebook talk led to stories about distant friends and relatives I smiled and nodded. The man to my right, somewhere in his mid-forties and originally from Australia, began telling a story about an awkward question he fielded shortly after the death of his mom.
“And she said, how is your mom these days?” he took a breath and broke out in a grin as he said, “I told her, funny you should ask, she took a ride in a limousine and they never brought her back.” He looked at us and shared, “So then, maybe four hours later I received a call where she told me how sorry she was and how embarrassing the whole thing was. I told her, not at all. Mom’d be happy. She would have loved my response.” People around the table tittered as he smiled and dove headlong into another story
My lips began to tremble as I watched him gesticulating and smiling as he talked about like in Australia.
She would have loved my response. He said it with such confidence and pleasure, the epitome of a child that has made someone proud. The hot slap of tears shocked me as I replayed my looping fear of the last five years.
I am going to die. I am going to leave them without me one day. We will not always be together.
It’s normal, but lately it has rattled me, latching on to my heart with a relentlessness that tires me, as if my every fear carries me closer to that eventuality. I want to be with them. Forever. But there it was, living and breathing before me, a child, sure he was grown, but a child just the same. He was so pleased with himself, so content in knowing how his mom would have responded to the exchange with that women so many years before. How many other times in life has he thought of her? Remembered her?
My eyelash kissed my skin as tear after tear rolled down. I began smiling and nodding.
I am at Rotary.
My girls are galloping ahead, clinging to me as much as they are pushing off of me, launching themselves forward.
My views are changing right along with my skin.
I will die, but I will be with them forever.
And so, while there is still terror, there is peace in knowing that they’ll one day say:
“She would have loved it!”
This is a wonderful post, Amanda.
I wonder what my kids will say about me when I am gone. Most days, I feel pretty certain that they will still be young when I go, so . . . will they hate me for leaving? For not doing enough to make sure I live to be even more wrinkled. And wise . . . .
Will they hear the times when I am sarcastic to the point of belittling? Or the cynicism?
Or will they choose to remember the good things about me. Would they be able to whip out a piece of paper at my funeral and list even ten things about me that makes them smile?
When my kids were small I used to think – if I died right now, would they have real memories of me? Now that they are older I don’t worry about that, and I don’t worry that they cannot do without me. That in itself gives me a measure of peace. Your take on it though, is really quite lovely.
There was that moment when the limo came to get our mother, and they bumped her down the front steps, and drove her away, and my sister said “it’s a good thing it’s so early that no one’s up; she’d have hated that.”
So there’s that too.
This is so beautiful, so thoughtful. I hope my children will know me well enough to say such things with such confidence as well.
Hello, Amanda. It’s Cathy again. Have not written you in a while. I was in NYC area – living – during 911… and am half remembering a poem I wrote back then, when sitting in ah… what is the name of that park… (anyway…) I know that if I had any choice in my own “last memory” before I slipped into the unknown, it would be remembering the last time – those last moments… nursing my youngest child… just before he was weaned. Knowing I would never experience it again… except in my memory. But you know? Memory is extraordinarily powerful. It is truly how we live forever, and is the essential meaning of immortality in my mind. You are immortal, for your children will carry your memory just as I carry that memory with me, as if it were happening right now, as I sit here, my kids grown – and miles away from me. Yet here. yet here… yet…
Oh my dear dear Amanda… how you bring me to tears with your beautiful posts. I just want to reach through the computer and hug you when I read your posts like these.