I tell you I’m thinking of posting something for Mother’s Day this year and you think at first I mean something new. And I lol because the only new things I write are letters to you.
What I had meant, in fact, was something I had already written. Something like this, perhaps. Or this.
But then I think about it some more and I think why not something new? Why this hiding? Why this choked voice? Why do these days drip by and nothing? Why do these days only drip by?
It’s a question she asked herself, my mom. In a letter to me from September 30th, 1992, a month after I had left home for college, she writes: “Speaking of my new life, I’m not sure I’m doing so well in that department. I bounce back and forth so. I’m either having the time of my life… doing nothing particularly special, but truly enjoying myself. Then all of a sudden I think is this it? What’s going to happen to me? I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. So I need to take action. And I suspect I will, but for a little while I have to relish the peace and quiet. I earned it. But it will get old soon and I’ll figure out what I’ll do then.”
She goes on in that letter to give me some advice about girls: “Why don’t you try to be more outgoing with girls, she says. And: “Don’t take it so seriously.” And: “Flirt a little and see where it goes. Or just be friends and believe it when somebody is friendly with you. Take a few risks.” I didn’t follow any of it. Not then.
She concludes that paragraph with: “Every letter I write I have to lecture a little. Don’t want you to get homesick, so trying to make it as much like visiting at home as possible.”
It did feel like visiting. Today it felt like visiting.
But I still feel homesick.
I want her to speak to me. I really wish she would. In dreams. Or through Mediums.
I want to hear her voice and feel her spirit. And sometimes I do.
I felt it the other day in the coffee shop with you.
Letters are the only way she speaks to me now. These letters to me while I was at college. And they are perfect because they are all such encouraging things. Telling me to believe in myself. Telling me to try and not be lonely. Admitting to me that she is the same way as me and that she wishes I could learn from her mistakes. I probably thought her letters were a little cheesy or corny then. But I don’t anymore. Today, I value them. I’m a different person today than I was then. I’m more confident. I’m maybe the somebody she hoped I’d turn out to be. It’s still nice to hear her say these things to me, though. In some ways, I will always be that boy in college.
In her letters to me, she sometimes references my letters to her. I wish I had those letters (my letters) so I could hear my voice then and hear what I was saying to her. I have not found any of those letters, though. They’re absent from the stuff I have of hers. I don’t think this means she didn’t keep them. But they did manage to get lost, somehow. I think there were other things that got lost, too. I say “lost” because my mom was not one to throw things away.
In addition to the letters she wrote to me, I also have a lot of letters my mom kept from a few different men in her life. Mostly they are from my dad, from when they were dating pre-marriage and from after they got divorced. (The ten years in between are missing, or lost, or something.) She also kept a lot of letters from another man she had a long-distance romance with later in her life. Along with the letters from them, she also kept drafts of the letters she wrote to them. I sometimes read bits and pieces of these letters from her to them in order to hear what that voice was like. But I have to be in a different mood for those letters. They are less confident. They are not motherly. In order to read them, I have to be ready to hear my mom hurt and insecure and sad.
Lately, when I think of my mom, I think of her as a very young girl. In a carriage, or at a lake house she went to with her family. Next to her brother sitting on a stoop somewhere, a stray hand in the foreground. I think of her dog Ricky and how she mentions him in journals and some early writing she did for school. It’s surprising she never had a dog as an adult because Ricky seemed to be important to her as a child. I think about this life I did not know and, yet, how it feels like I did know it. How it feels like I was there with her. The same way she was with me when I was young. It feels like we were young together.
It feels that way with you, as well.
My mom wanted to write. One of the things I have of hers is an outline for a novel. There is also one scene from it which she wrote out. It is a sex scene, which is weird, but also kind of comforting:
To know my mom was human, too.
I don’t think I’ve posted anything on Mother’s Day since my mom died. I don’t feel like verifying this fact, even though I easily could. What I do know is that in the past I’ve felt bitter about this day. I’ve felt bitter about it for reasons that go beyond my mother no longer being here. And maybe the fact that I felt it necessary and good to post something today had something to do with healing. Maybe the fact that I went ahead and took out her letters and her photographs today, scanned some of them in, put some words to page — something “new” — maybe this all has something to do with healing.
Here’s a Dave Matthews song. It has become one of my favorites, even though it hasn’t even officially been released yet. The song is called “Samurai Cop.” Which is either the worst name for this song, or the most perfect name for it. The band first played it about a year ago during their 25th anniversary show.
It reminds me of my mother.
And to appreciate life.
It makes me think of magic.
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