I miss my Mom.

She’s still here. But not the way she used to be. I can visit her. I can look into her eyes, hold her hand, give her a hug. She’s still here. But… not the way she used to be.

I miss the talks we used to have.

No. Wait. We didn’t have talks. We had these soul-connecting, emotion-bursting, joy-sustaining conversations about life and love and death and every f*cking thing in-between. And she would hate that I used that word, but she would love that I left out the u.

The truth is, I could say absolutely anything to my Mom.  And I did. I could filet myself open, let all the darkness spill out…and she wouldn’t flinch. Not a bit.

One Summer, while walking back to the beach house, to get sandwiches during our annual shore trip, I spotted her walking to church. She looked flawless. Who looks flawless at the beach? Her hair was perfect. Her make-up luminous. She smelled divine. And she was dressed like a Summer wildflower – the kind that never wilts. She hugged me – even though I was all beachy and asked me to join her. She said, “Honey, it’s so beautiful. The music and the hymns give you the chills. The sunlight streams in through the stained-glass. It’s so cool with the air-conditioning, and it feels like you’re in Heaven.”

She sold me. I quickly showered, dressed, threw together lunch, delivered it to my hungry, sea-side people, and went to mass with my Mom.

One of my best decisions. One of my best memories.

When we arrived, we discovered the air-conditioning was broken. They partitioned off a small, darkened section for the service. There was no streaming, stained-glass sunlight. There was no music. There was no singing. There was no cool air, and we were close to fainting by the time the service ended.

After mass, my Mom led me to the special intention candles – the ones you light by placing a dollar in the slot. The dollar apparently has weight, and it shoots your prayer straight up to Heaven, ahead of all the non-paying prayers.

My Mom went first. Her dollar went through. Her candle was lit. Her prayer was said – and no doubt answered.

My turn. I put my dollar in. It came back out. I tried it again. It came back out. I got another dollar. I tried another candle. Same thing. I repeated this numerous times. I couldn’t get a dollar to stay in. I couldn’t get a candle to light. This couldn’t be happening. Was there a hidden camera around recording me?

I turned to my Mom and blurted out, “I’m a sinner.” And she said, with a smile, “That’s ok, honey.” At that point, we burst out laughing. We couldn’t stop. All of the other near-fainting church goers were staring at us as we ran out of that hot, dark church giggling like school girls.

My beautiful, sweet, intelligent, giving, faith-filled Mom may not have her memories. But they are not lost. They are being held inside the hearts of everyone that loves her. And she continues to inspire and teach us all. That day she taught me that the most perfect, brilliant, enormous love can be found even in the least perfect, darkened, and smallest of spaces.

So much love…to remember.

Love & Peace,

Carole Rose