I began to read the book, For One More Day by Mitch Albom, on the last day I would see my mother alive.
The day I finished this book, was the day I found out she had peacefully died in her home.
It was all quite surreal.
My beloved mom, Boo, had given her four daughters a copy of this book for Christmas the previous year.
She called me, "Boo." I called her, "Boo." A term of endearment we loved.
After a visit to see her in Indianapolis, I was returning to Chicago on a Megabus heading for Union Station.
My sister had dropped me off at the bus stop in downtown Indianapolis and as I boarded the bus for departure, I glanced back to see my mother's beautiful, white-haired head in the passenger seat of Nina's car.
I waved goodbye to her, not knowing I would never wave to her again.
Once the bus got moving on the highway, I opened the book that I never got around to reading all year. It would be the perfect way to pass the time on this three and a half hour ride.
Here's the inscription Boo wrote inside the cover:
I'll always want
one more with you, Boo
I shed some tears when I read that powerful line in her handwriting.
Then turned the page and began to read.
So began the deep connection I have with this book.
Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation,
one more chance to make up for the time
when you thought they would be here forever?
Back home, life returned to our normal routine.
Boo was planning to celebrate her birthday and Thanksgiving at our home that November. Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday. She would have turned eighty-six.
On a Saturday afternoon in late October, I picked up this book to finish reading the last few chapters. Closing the book in tears, I looked forward to discussing it with her on the phone the next day. Unbeknown to all of us, Boo had passed away, sitting in her favorite chair wearing her nightgown, while watching television the night before. That's how the paramedics found her. All alone.
Looking back, I began to unravel the day my mother died,
around ten years ago.
I wasn't there when it happened,
and I should have been.
That evening we got word she had passed away. It will be ten years this October. I should have been there.
I was devastated.
I never had the chance to say or wave a final goodbye.
The book asks, "What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?"
This is how I would spend one more day with Boo.
We would start the day drinking a pot of black coffee with a poached egg on wheat toast, in our bathrobes, at my kitchen table.
Boo would do the Chicago Tribune crossword puzzle in pen while I read the sports section.
Our conversations would run the gamut of what she served for bridge on Wednesday to the sermon from her favorite priest at mass last Sunday.
Old family photos would make their appearance along with a stack of Crate & Barrel catalogs and piles of old cookbooks.
We would ramble through the hydrangeas, impatiens and hostas in the garden. Inhale tarragon, rosemary and basil growing in sunny pots on the patio. Feed the birds and chase away the pesky squirrels.
Boo would be wearing her white beaded necklace, a red and white striped top and white slacks. Bold, dangling earrings would hang from her earlobes. Because of arthritis, she would sport sturdy, white tennis shoes.
I would take her to lunch at Benedict's for the bacon quiche and a carafe of iced tea, where we would sit for hours discussing politics, dad, her nine grandchildren, my sisters, her sister and one of her current hospice clients.
When we finally arrived back home, it would be time for "Happy Hour" and dinner preparations.
Michael would fix her a strong Tanqueray martini on-the-rocks with blue cheese stuffed olives and only a dash of vermouth, while I would lay out a spread of brie, almonds and Triscuits.
The aroma of pork tenderloin, red peppers and corn-on-the cob sizzling on the grill would whet our appetites for a relaxed dinner on the secluded patio lit by candles. After the dishes were put away, we would sit around the bonfire glowing with gentle embers and converse well past midnight. No subject was ever off limits.
Boo would stand and declare it was time for her "feathers" then head off to bed. I would kiss her goodnight, and as we hugged tightly, we'd tell each other "I love you!" and mean it.
That's what I would do if we could spend one more day together.
Are you shocked? That's it? What's so spectacular about this day?
Simple, everyday stuff.
We aren't needy, fussy people, Boo and I.
Just doing what we loved to do when we were together.
Feeling comfortable. Feeling close. Feeling connected.
I loved her dearly. Still do. Always will.
I'll always want one more with you, too, Boo.
After almost ten years, I still miss you every single day.
Happy Mother's Day,
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