It was a Sunday. I knelt down today at my mother’s grave, and sobbed. How I miss her.
The space above, around her grave, so silent, so deafening.
I left there, pulled out onto Airline Highway thinking how many times she and I had driven by this cemetery. Oblivious. Carefree.
Then I drove to the boat launch where I’d take her on Sundays after Mass and lunch, just to sit and watch the waves, the boats, the birds, the people. It was a ritual. She loved repetition. It soothed her dementia. It was all about the routine.
As we’d sit in the car looking at the lake, she’d say the same few things over and again in a round. Then, after a time, I’d help her out of the car, sit her on her walker and push her up to the dock. As we we’d move along she would always say the same thing every week: “I wish I could get up and dance!” I’d say, “What’s stopping you!” She’d laugh.
She loved to dance when she was young. I remember her in my childhood often singing, I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady. She loved it when Patti would sing it for her. “Bed! Bed! I couldn’t go to bed…”
Parked on the dock we’d linger for a bit, and she would greet every passerby. With such cheer, equal for all. I once thought, “If the whole world could pass by her on this dock, the world could heal.”
We’d say nothing much to each other. No need to anymore.
Sometimes I took a photo of her to send to the kids, or to my sister. “Grandma’s having fun!” “Mom’s having fun!” As I’d send the photo, Mom would say something like, “My goodness, the things you can do nowadays! When I was a little girl…”
Then we’d sit quietly for a bit more time and she’d often say, “It’s so peaceful here. I love the sound of the water.”
She loved being near the water when I was growing up, always wanted to go to the Rhode Island shore. Newport, Galilee, Point Judith were her favorites. It gave her a sense of serenity, she said.
She’d gone to the shore right after I was born, my dad told me. After six children and two near-death labor & deliveries, she was worn down. The rhythm of the waves, the smell of the sea salt and the sound of the seagulls made her world seem better. So it seemed. She’d just look.
In those last nine days of her life, she was helpless. I was helpless. She was unable to eat, had difficulty breathing. Yet, she was so serene. Almost otherworldly. It amazed even the nurses.
But I couldn’t take her to the boat launch, to our dock.
That crushed me.
I wanted to.
I told her so.
I held back the tears,
but she could tell.
I know it’s there.
I can see it
in my mind.”
Such beauty amid the terrible, as she faded.
I miss you mom.
I know the water is There, and certainly you’re There by it. On eternal Shores, eternal Peace. And you dance, and you sing, and you feast, waiting for us on the Dock.