This is my second Mother’s Day without my mom. I feel her absence, not just on a physical level, but in some deeper intangible space where we were, and still are, bound to one another.
Thinking of her (especially this year for some reason) sent me to dig out the dog-eared copy of one of my favorite children’s book: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. In it, a three foot china rabbit (Edward), has to lose all that he thinks is important in order to discover his own capacity to love.
Eventually Edward comes full circle, back to the girl who once loved him, but the reader (me!) is left with more than a happy ending. There’s a recognition that each step Edward took, though often painful, was an essential part of his journey and that somehow Edward was better for having taken them.
The last word to his story is simply this: coda.
I’m not sure which definition the author, Kate DiCamillo, intended but I like the one that relates to music. Coda is a term for what follows the main body of a piece of music.
Used in this context, a coda seems to be a gentle extension to a piece of music which allows the listener to soak in the essence of the melody that’s already been played in order to let the beauty of it linger a while longer.
By that definition, the last few years I had with my mom were a coda. The time we spent together, while nowhere near as vibrant as it had been while I was growing up, still somehow held the essence of our lives together.
Despite her increasing memory loss and our shifting roles with each other, there was something worth savoring in our time together. Shifting into the role of caretaker wasn’t an easy transition for me to make but, like Edward, in the end each step proved essential. Compassion took root. Love grew.
There was plenty for all of us, children and grandchildren alike, still left to learn.
Only in retrospect would I realize that my mother and I had been on a miraculous journey of our own despite the challenges, and in light of the joy, that life had held for us along the way.
There are days when I feel her lingering as I sit at the kitchen table with the early morning sun filtering in.
Memories creep in of my grandmother, too, sitting with Mom over long cups of coffee and toast. They were unhurried, uncomplicated hours for two of them. While I didn’t recognize it as a child, I wonder now if perhaps as they got older, they were sharing a coda of their own.
It leaves me with a hankering for a good, slow cup of coffee. To go with it I think I’ll make something uncomplicated, too.
My good friend, Nancy, has a recipe for English Muffin bread which sounds like it will not only toast up well but taste great slathered in a little of our tart apricot jam. It’ll be a great way to spend Mother’s Day as I revel in the gifts that my mom brought into my life and revisit those deep intangible spaces where we were, and still are, bound to one another.
You can find a family recipe here! Muiolatte.