When Mom came to visit we walked to the beach and stared at the waves. We spoke of mundane matters: an old friend who got married, Facebook photos. We ate frozen yogurt for dinner and pizza for dessert.
When Mom came to visit we took turns on my heating pad. We’d both just been to the chiropractor. I’ve been throwing my hips out of alignment with alarming regularity lately: the result of over-flexible muscles and an under-engaged core. Mom had a strange pain in her upper back, possibly from lifting a few boxes two days before.
When Mom came to visit I didn’t want to tally up all the chiropractic bills ahead of me. When we unrolled our yoga mats side by side, I wanted to breathe deeply and enjoy her proximity. I didn’t want to fixate on core sequences like a madwoman. I didn’t want to grunt monosyllables when she tried to strike up a conversation mid-stretch.
When Mom came to visit we slept side by side in my double bed. The first morning I woke to her snoring: nothing terribly loud, just an intermittent grizzly purr. I thought about how nice it would be to have a second bedroom (or a second room of any kind, for that matter). I thought about how strange it is that she’s begun to snore: when I hit sixty, will I start too? I didn’t think about the nine months I slept within her body, or all the nights I woke her wanting food or comforting.
When Mom came to visit we went to the Topsfield Fair. We met up with David’s family and walked among flowers and quilts and rabbits and cows.
The crowds exhausted me, so I reached out again and again to pull David close. I tried not to remember all the times my mother held my hand amidst swarms of strangers. I tried not to feel the sadness of not needing her anymore.
When Mom came to visit I wanted to shove aside my routines to make ample space for her, for whoever she has become in the two-plus months since we breathed the same air. I wanted it to be easy. I wanted our shared history to hang on the wall in sturdy frames, not to reside within me, forgettable as my heartbeat.
After the Topsfield Fair she lay down to take a nap and I rode my bike to the Laundromat with an oversized duffle on my back. While the clothes were in the wash I sat on the kitchen floor with my journal and a cup of tea. The world grew still and reverence crept over me and Mom barely snored at all.
While the clothes were drying she awoke and we sat side by side on my bed. She was finishing a novel as I continued to scribble in my journal. I held her hand and felt a pulse in my fingers – hers or mine? I couldn’t know.
When Mom came to visit I wanted to be someone bigger than I am, wanted not to grapple with exasperation or the fear of aging. I wanted to open a second room in my mind, to cut through the fog of familiarity and see her truly. She didn’t expect anything so grand. Halfway through folding the laundry I put my arms around her and we hugged for a long, long time.