|Margaret, Me, Jane and Mom circa 1972 at Ball State University|
But this is the second time I've downsized in two years, and my third move in the same, so perhaps I can be forgiven for getting a bit weepy. My son called to wish me happy Mother's Day, and I felt so far from him and so discombobulated that I finally did wipe a few tears away before I went back to my sorting.
And somehow David and I lost track of time. We needed to leave Vienna at 1:30 for me to make it to Reagan in time to make my plane. Somehow, while we were packing and discussing what to keep/give away/sell/ move to the stores/ move to storage/ and send to Florida, we stopped watching the clock. When we noticed it was ten 'til two, we went racing to the car, threw my stuff in, and hit the streets.
"Don't worry," said David. "It's Sunday. There won't be any traffic."
I don't know where HE'S been living the past two years. The only times I've never seen traffic in DC was one morning at 5:30 a.m. Oh, yeah, and the day we got five feet of snow. Of course there was traffic. It was like driving through a molasses drip in January.
We were both in a lather when we pulled up to the US Airways curb-side check-in. US Air has decided that you, dear paying customer, must operate the check-in computer on your own. And just to make that nearly impossible, all the directions have been worn off the machines. There are slots, and a bar code scanner, but what does any of that mean? Hmmm? What do you put where? By the time I got my boarding pass, I was frantic. I kissed David goodbye and sprinted for the gate.
Hauling my heavy backpack, my purse, and the bouquet of roses David had given me for Mother's Day, I made it to security. I was waiting my turn in line when I heard them announce over the airport loud speaker: "Will the owner of a black Blackberry left at the US Airways curb-side check-in, please come back and claim it?"
They were talking about David's Blackberry.
I started calling him to confirm that it wasn't his--and wondering what to do if it was. When I finally got him on the phone, he laughed and said he'd realized it was missing and swung back by to pick it up.
By now, I was drenched in sweat. I made it to security where the TSA agent demanded that I remove the scarf from around my neck. I have NO idea what they thought I was hiding in my scarf besides my aging neck.
The plane was boarding as I walked up to the gate.
My sister Jane picked me after I landed at the West Palm Beach airport. "Something strange happened. I got an email yesterday. It was addressed to Mom."
"Wow," I said. Mom's been dead two years now.
"The email came from you," said Jane.
Over the weekend, I sent out my email blast announcing my upcoming signings. I'd forgotten that my mom's email address was still on the Constant Contact list. Since Mom's email account is on Jane's computer, Jane saw the email message addressed to Mom, opened it, and realized it came from me.
"I just can't bring myself to delete her name from everything, every list, every place it might appear," said Jane. "I miss her."
I know what she means. I still have Mom's email address on my computer address book, her phone number in my phone, and her mailing address in my Rolodex. It's like I'm pretending she's still here. But, of course, she's not.
After Jane went to work, I took a walk on the beach, drank a glass of wine, and opened my computer to write my weekly post. That's when I saw that Jane had posted this photo of the four of us--the three of us Campbell girls and our mother--on her Facebook page.
I remember the day the photo was taken. It happened during a hard time in our lives. My father had left us, and we were on welfare. I don't know how we found the courage to smile, but we did. And a friend snapped this photo. We were all so young, so broke, so frightened, but we had each other.
Once again, I'm sitting here crying.
How can it be Mother's Day when my mother isn't here? I think about that kid's book with the little bird looking for his mother. He asks the dog, "Are you my mother?" and the cat, "Are you my mother?"
Eventually he finds his mother.
But I won't. Mine is gone.
Sarita, you won the copy of Pumped for Murder by Elaine Viets. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your postal address so I can mail it to you, please.