One Perfect Day-A Conversation With Andrew

One Perfect Day-A Conversation With Andrew

Once again, ChicagoNow is holding a "Blogapalooza". We are given a topic and one hour in which to write. This month's assignment was, "Write what your perfect day would be like, either in reality or fantasy".

 

My perfect day would be bright and clear, with a warm sun but the temperature wouldn’t matter. If it were warm, perhaps outside on the patio. If it were cold, in the front parlor surrounded by the books and mementos, the awards and ribbons, plaques and accolades, many of which were bestowed because of another bright, clear day nearly four years ago.

The day would be spent talking, feeling, remembering. And laughing, lots of laughing at those inside jokes only he and I understood, at memories of the silly and even at the things that weren’t so funny in the moment but have come to be with the passage of time, with the gift of perspective.

My most perfect day of course would be one in which my son were still alive. The weather wouldn’t matter then, nor would I care what I was doing, where I was or even where he was. The simple fact of him being alive would be all that mattered.

But, even in my fantasies, I try to make myself accept and remember that he is gone. Permanently. So much so that even my fertile imagination can’t conjure it, pretend it is otherwise. This is a good thing. At least I hope it is and tell myself it is, that I truly recognize this reality. The truth is, if I let myself dream, pretend or even wish, a heart that is so irrevocably, irretrievably broken can be undone even more. That is a pain I choose not to inflict on myself.

So, I accept, even for the purposes of imagining what that perfect day would be like this harsh truth and make it an inescapable fact.  But I can allow myself to pretend that somehow, even though he is gone, I can have at least this one day with him somehow miraculously here. Just to talk.

In this alternate world where we get to have true conversation and not just an imagined one with our own minds filling in the other, unspoken side, there would be rules. Such as, no asking The Big Questions. Like, about God. And what does God think about…really anything.

I’d accept that and ask about all the things that he and I shared, those interests that we both used to find so fascinating. These conversations I have imagined, at least the real part, my side of the chat. Each time, it makes me smile to think that he has the answers to all those questions and mysteries about which we so often speculated.

Not many eleven year olds are so fascinated with the history of the Knights Templar. He was almost scary smart and even at that age delved into subjects and topics in a way many adult minds don’t. Those and so many other interests were part of our secret, us-only conversations, even when he grew up and left behind other childhood pursuits.

On this perfect day, I’d get to ask, Who really built Stonehenge? That was one of the burning questions we hoped to explore together in person on a trip to England. We would go, see, feel and have the adventure of a lifetime with the only other person who was as interested in these topics as we were, or that is what we told ourselves the excuse would be for taking off, just the two of us.

On this perfect day, he would tell me what the Knights Templar actually did for all that time in Jerusalem, living under the stables of Solomon’s temple. And he would know what is, or was, at the bottom of that hole on Oak Island. And who drew the lines on the Plains of Nazca. And if Atlantis was real and where it was.

On this perfect day, I wouldn’t need to be able to remember the answers because that would be one of the rules, I think. The feeling, the experience you get to keep, but not the knowledge.

But, there are some questions for which you do get to keep if not the complete answer than at least more of the understandings the answers engendered. Those would be the questions I wouldn’t be able to ask, but he would answer anyway.

He would talk about the memories I carry, the ones I shrink from, the ones all mothers carry. We tell ourselves we were a good mom, we did the best we could and do our best to block out the knowledge of the times when were could have done better.  He would call up each of those memories from my heart and tell me how I was being too hard on myself, how it didn’t really happen the way I remember.

For those moments where there is no equivocation, when the hard truth is I wasn’t a very good mom, he would tell me that I was only human, that it was a moment, a small slip, a tiny mistake that when weighed against the whole that was his life, didn’t matter; or, if they mattered at all it was only to prove that even moms can make mistakes, even moms aren’t perfect. But, because of the perfect, all encompassing and unconditional love of a mom, even the imperfections were a proof of perfection.

Then he would tell me, once again, as he did so in reality, in life and even from halfway around the world, that he loved me. And I would tell him that in reailty, in life, I did get his final message, the one in which I heard the biggest "I love you, Mom" I ever received.

I would tell him about what has become my most treasured possession, a little piece of paper.

Months after he was killed in that far away place, I received an envelope with a letter and a scrap of paper.

The letter explained that scrap of paper, no more than three by four inches, ragged at the top where it had been torn from some kind of message pad. The letter explained that a new radio operator had taken his old job and along with the assignment came the tools, the stuff needed to do the job. One of those things was a small notepad. The scrap of paper in the envelope was one of the last pages in that notepad. The letter explained that when this new radio operator found that page, he immediately understood it was one of the last things my son ever wrote.

The letter explained that the new radio operator knew that no matter what, the writer’s mom needed to have that page from the notebook. Because that page was a list. A ‘to do’ list. Things the writer, her son, was going to do.

It was a short list, just eleven items. All but three of the items on that list were things the writer was going to do for or with his mom.

On that perfect day, I would get to see my son, sit with him and just talk. Laugh at all our private jokes, get all the answers to those big questions, but I would also get to see that shy, self-conscious smile that only I got to see as I told him I got his last message.

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