“I wanted to know Marika better,” says my friend Lynn after she reads my manuscript. “You should show the reader more … beyond the natural love a mother feels for a child.” For days I scour my memory for endearing mother-daughter moments to add to the book. They don’t materialize. So I abandon that project to photo-shop a picture of my mother in her twenties and consider what I could write about Mothers’ Day for my next blog post.
Sunday I wake to the wild scampering of my cat. It sounds like he’s found a mouse. Something I will have to get up to deal with. But not yet, it’s too early. As my dog scrubs my face with morning kisses in an effort to coax me out of bed, I remember that it is Mothers’ Day today. Now that my son is in Afghanistan and Marika is gone this is one of my dreaded holidays. I wonder if Greg will call. Not likely. It’s too much for me to think about. I bury myself under the comforter.
When I finally get up I find a trail of Q-Tips leading to the bathroom and all over the house. The cat has been busy; no mouse, just Q-Tips. Suddenly I am transported back to a Mothers’ Day in 2008, days before Marika was diagnosed with leukemia. I had come home to find a trail of Hersheys chocolate kisses dotting the floor in a roundabout route from the front door to the dining room table.
“Mom, you hafta follow the chocolate and read the clues to find your present,” Marika had said. I traced the chocolates to an elegant dinner she’d made of Caesar salad and pasta generously laced with red sauce, shrimp and scallops. She’d moved her boom-box downstairs for the occasion. There were flowers on the table, a tablecloth and candles, and a chocolate cake. It was the first time she had ever cooked a meal for me.
The picture of her proud face that evening warms me now and I write a note to myself, “Add Marika-memory to book.”
“Stop tormenting the dog,” I yell to the cat that swats at Suki each time he prances by to check my progress towards the refrigerator.
“Suki, don’t tease him,” I say to the dog. “You’re just encouraging him.” For a moment it’s like having my young children home again.
Suki tosses and then pounces on a last stray Q-tip by the dining room table that has become my desk over the past months. A large note sits on top of the table. “CALL MOM.” The last two Mothers’ Days I was so lost in grief and looking for life after loss that I almost forgot to phone my own mother.
Later, in the middle of the Sunday Morning Hike at Hammond Hill, my son calls me from Afghanistan. That’s when I know I’ve found this week’s blog story.