A photo of my mom - the one in the photo box here - sits on my bureau. With it is a copy of a little poem, in her handwriting:
We are all here
On this earth
For the perfect
Amount of time
And we are all just
Here for a visit...
The photo was taken on the back step of the house I grew up in. I gave her the windchime that hangs from the porch ceiling. Beneath the Christmas wreath is a little sign that says "Chien Mechant," or "Evil Dog."
My mom and I sat on the back step more times than I can count or can remember, talking, smoking, looking at the stars, listening to the neighborhood, watching the not-so-evil dog. Talking. Talking and talking and laughing and laughing. And, sometimes, crying.
I'VE HAD A SHOW in a gallery in New York every year for a number of years since my mother died. I've dedicated each of these shows to her. And until this year, I brought this photograph and left it in the gallery, so that Mom could watch over my show.
This year, I didn't. I forgot.
And Mom, I know, was smiling.
MOM IS NEVER FAR from me these days, and I never stop missing her. She never saw my paintings, never read a word of Patch, never met my youngest grandchildren.
How delighted she would be!
She would be so happy at the changes in my life, and the changes that are coming. She'd be so pleased with the path I'm taking.
I miss the joy this all would give her. And how I miss her pleasure in me!
No one in my life - maybe my husband - has believed in me with the happiness and sureness and utter abandon with which my mother believed in me.
One of the hardest things about her death was having that vision of me eradicated from the earth. Suddenly, no one on earth believed in me that way any more, including me.
THAT'S WHAT MOTHERS DO. We love, we cherish, we guide. We measure, we criticize, we even yell. And we believe.
Through the ups and the downs, the smart moves and the stupid ones, we believe in our children - and love them with abandon and certainty and the truest of hearts.
After six years without Mom, I'm moving from grief to sadness. The gulping pits of anguish, of missing my mother desperately, missing her voice, her laugh, her beautiful outlook on life, these moments come less frequently, though they hit me just as hard.
Every day, every single day, I wish that my mother were still here. That we could still sit on the back porch and talk and laugh and listen to the birds. That I could reach out and pick up the phone and tell her the silly or funny or poignant thing that just happened. That I could see her beautiful smile and share another moment with her.
But I am able, most days, to pull myself together then and be grateful for the years we had together.
We are all here, on this earth, for the perfect amount of time. And we are all just here for a visit.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I know you're with me.