A beautiful Saturday. Sunshine. Coffee with friends. A call from Steve. Awkward pauses. What is wrong? Tell me.
Your Mother is dead.
She was dead in her bed when your dad got up to use the washroom. An ambulance came. They could not revive her.
Shall I come and get you?
A drive of one mile, rejecting my friends’ company as well. An attempt to sort it out, make a plan. Create a stoic persona.
Steve had made reservations, pulled pictures, grabbed clothes. He had a plan. I would go with my sister. He would follow with the boys.
The business of letting go is much easier with a tether to cling to.
That was Steve. Sturdy. Focused. Kind. Everything I could want. Not one misstep in the face of my crippling sadness.
He was everything I needed to get through the days. He allowed me to proffer a bit of iron to others, who were less buttressed. To speak of her from the altar.
Then home to Chicago, clutching two jars of Mom’s jam. She had mashed and boiled the strawberries, added sugar , melted wax, sealed and stored them. A typical little kindness, shared with family and friends. Stolen from Dad’s supply.
Mom liked her dumplings with butter and jam. Clays, she called them.
Jam is not my thing; I have never even been tempted to put her product on my toast. But I wanted to share in her bounty one last time.
Today I took the jam jars out of the pantry. Visited them.
Hell, the seals may hold back botulism at this late date.
It doesn’t matter; I will never pry the wax out. I will never eat the fruit.
You know why.
For a few moments today, Mom and I touched.
It was very sweet.
Like Romeo says, Parting…
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