White stones, the water against the raft
We held mom’s funeral yesterday.
It was magical and curious, eclectic and playful – just as she was. Friends from every part of her life rose to speak of her artful and curious nature I caught this other message – flowing in and out of all of the memories and stories. My mother related to everything she encountered – every stone, every found bottle cap or broken insect wing – as animated with value.
As her daughter, I inhabited this living and precious world with her every day of my life.
After the service, the funeral manager stepped toward me. “I feel as if I know your mother,” she said. “What an extraordinary woman she was.” She told me that her daughter is an artist. “She’s 16,” she said. “Just starting out. I will tell her about your mom.”
I handed her a white stone which I’d been carrying in my pocket – from a collection I’d gathered on many trips to the beach with Mom.
“Give this to your daughter – artist to artist,” I said. She thanked me and walked away. A moment later, she tapped me. “I just found a bottle cap!” she gasped, opening her hand to reveal the cap, marked “Corona Extra”.
A moment later, another friend found a big striped feather. He told me that my mother used to talk with him in a way that no one ever had. “She listened to me. She saw something in me,” he said.
We stood together, people who did not know one another, united inside the field of my mother’s luminescent love.
I dreamed last night that she came and visited me. I was walking around the perimeter of a grocery store with my sisters, passing aisle after aisle. As they walked ahead, I heard my name, turned and there she was. Mom! I laughed, and I entered her aisle, walking toward her. She smiled at me as I drew closer. Then, she closed her eyes and fell backward. Dissolving before my eyes.
I woke with a gasp – and she was there. As my bedroom door gently swung closed, I noticed the pattern of light and shadow, cast by the moon or a neighbor’s porch light, on the wall. Trees moving in the wind.
I watched, reading the patterns. Hi Mom, I said out loud.
I remembered that before she died, I’d promised to walk with her to the edge of this life – as far as I am allowed to go – and help her cross over. I will help you, I promised again last night.
I fell asleep then, and I dreamed that I was standing on a raft – the kind we used to swim to at camp when I was a girl. Mom was sitting beside me, her arms wrapped around her knees the way she always would. She was content and quiet, staring at the horizon as I slowly moved the raft through the water with a long pole.
My sisters were there and so were Mom’s friends. Many rafts floating together toward the horizon.
It was easy and quiet. The only sound, the splash splash splash of the water against the raft as we made our way.