I don’t think I can ever love anything the way I love my mother. A bond that runs through my blood, a love that’s almost spiritual. I think I left for California because I was afraid of that love, of that bond between us that was broken when I came out and repaired with thread and bits of Big League Chew. I think I’m always afraid of losing her, the way she lost hers when she was 14. I’ve at least got eight years on her, at least I’ve got text messages and phone calls. At least I’ve got her cheekbones and her temper, the way I jump to conclusions and take St. John’s Wort for an acute and whispering dose of hereditary depression. And at least I have the memories of sleeping in the middle, of baths and her drawings. She’s been sending me more and more momentos to remember her by, to keep the memory alive and tangible.
My mom’s a Midwesterner through and through. Nosey and angry, bitter and prideful. She sends me care packages of coffee and candy, jars of jam and mustards. Nourishing boxes, care boxes. Curated boxes that remind me of home. She’s a gothic novel, a southern gospel of the haunting romance of love. She’s Catherine at the windowsill when she sends these boxes, boxes that scare me because I left her alone. Alone in a house too empty and filled with silence and cats.
I called her on Mother’s Day and she and my father were visiting my brother in North Carolina. My voice cracked as I drove on the 8 West. I sipped coffee to burn my tongue so I could distract the tears from coming. I just missed her so much in that moment. And when the phone call ended and I got to work, I had enough distractions to keep me busy. It’s only at night when I really miss her. The absence is like a migraine, though, dull and constant until there’s something to trigger it. Light and sound, memories and scents. Peaches or cucumber-melon lotion. I avoid it all when I start to miss her.
Here’s to Nancy and her hugs, her laughter and her sadness. Here’s to Nancy, and the toffees she sent me and the times I’ll never get back.