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!”