Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have been 81 years old had she lived past 64. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, but today is one of those days that not a moment goes by without me thinking of her. It is her birthday.
Life after my mother’s passing was indescribably hard. I depended on my mother desperately during many dark hours in my life. The day she died was the darkest hour for me, and she wasn’t there. I spent the following four months trying to figure out life without her. Summer came and I began to write. I would ride my bike out to the cemetery, sit on Dad’s side of the headstone (it was unoccupied at that time) and write. I’d write her letters. I’d write poetry, horribly. I’d write about small memories. I’d write about big memories. I’d write, and the more I wrote, the more I came out of the fog.
I took my first creative nonfiction class that fall, and the instructor asked us to write a piece engaging all of our senses. The following piece is what I wrote. It drips with excessive attempts at imagery, and I’m sorry.
I wrote it for my mother.
She loves rainy days. The sound of the falling rain is poetry to her. Looking out the kitchen window, she feels calm, content with her life as the rain washes her worries of ordinary life away. Rain makes everything clean again. The dust is washed out of the sky, the grass is rinsed from all filth, the air itself is refreshed and awakened much like her life, body and mind.
She goes to the stained coffee-maker perched on the corner of the avocado counter top, reaches in the metal cupboard above, and takes out her favorite rainy-day mug made by her youngest child in an elementary art class. A brown ceramic mug that holds three times more coffee than any other cup in the cupboard. Printed across the side in capital grade-school lettering is her name, “MOM.” Holding it by the top, she places it on the counter next to the coffee pot, and fills it to the brim with piping hot black liquid. The rich aroma floats upward in a coat of steam. She breathes in deeply and sighs, thinking that the only thing better than a good rain is a steaming cup of coffee.
She walks from the kitchen to the front door in her slippers. The scratching of the well-worn soles against the wood floor is the only sound in the house, save the pittering of rain on the roof. At the screen door she stops and breathes in the moist air. What a perfect day, she thinks to herself. Listening to the screen door clap twice behind her, she makes her way across the porch. She sits in the white washed porch swing, blows the steam from the top of her coffee and takes her first sip.
Her thoughts settle on her children, one by one, as she slowly sways with the swing; each being born on a different day of the week, except for the last baby. She had to share with the second. She wishes that she could have made a whole new day of the week to accommodate them all.
She notices a robin hopping across the yard searching for the right worm to feed her babies for breakfast. She smiles at the memory of making breakfast for eight hungry mouths. She thinks of how she, too, rushed in the morning frenzy as her children chirped over their breakfast, and how she nestled in this very spot after they made it out the door to school. Closing her eyes, she relaxes back into the swing as she takes in a breath of fresh rain. She remembers when the house was completely buzzing with her children, and how she couldn’t wait for silence. Now that she has the silence, she longs for the buzzing. A smile appears in the corner of her mouth as she remembers the bustling days, while a tear forms under her closed lids in empathy for that robin that will soon know the quietness it longs for.
She opens her eyes as she brushes away the tear. Sipping her coffee, she pushes herself softly in the swing and watches it rain.
Happy birthday, Momma. I still think of you every time it rains.