(Warning - "this is us" spoiler alert, if you haven't caught up...start at the third paragraph)
I finally got caught up on the TV show "This Is Us." I watched
the episode that aired after the Super Bowl on Monday night.
It is the episode that reveals how one of the main characters die... and it shows the surviving family members 20 years in the future and the various ways they "remember" the loved one, each in their own way. The wife has a ritual where she makes his favorite meal – and just spends the day hoping to hear or see a message or something that shows her – he is still "here."
As I watched on this Monday night, it did not escape my attention that the next day was Tuesday, that this week would be 19 years since my mom died, and I, like Rebecca, would be remembering, watching, waiting.
My mom died on February 9, 1999.
It was a Tuesday.
I always try to have the day off and have my own ritual and try to do something that my mom would like.
Even though February 9 is the actual anniversary, it's always that Tuesday that hits the hardest and lays my heart wide open in sorrow AND in gratitude.
This Tuesday, I wrote in my journal and as I flipped open a book that I try to read every day ?, I noticed a paper that is in the book, but I don't usually use as a bookmark.
It was a photo copy of a picture of my mom and me. My mom is dressed in a Jackie Kennedy inspired outfit and I am next to her looking like I am not exactly enjoying my, what looks to be made of scratchy wool ?, outfit.
What I zeroed in on in this picture was how my little hand was wrapped around her already visible, but not nearly as bad as later, arthritic finger.
My mom's hands.
There is little in this world that has filled me with so much anguish AND so much love, as my mom's hands.
Anguish over how much pain she endured. And love because they were the hands of a person I loved so much and who loved us and gave so much to us, even in the midst of pain.
After marveling a bit at this picture and the fact I was ever that little and that close to her to grasp her hand so tightly,
I thought ---there it is---My message from heaven --- finding this picture stuck in a part of a book, and my mom saying, "I am still here. "
I took a picture of the picture and made it my phone screen saver, so that every time I picked up my phone that day I would see us together.
I went about the rest of the morning, got ready for work and started my workday at the counter where we buy books.
There was a stack of books that had already been dropped off by a customer before I got there. Her name was Patsy.
I finished evaluating the books and paged the customer. After a few moments I saw a lady making her way to the counter. I asked "Are you Patsy?" She smiled and nodded. I made her offer, she accepted it, and as I held out the pen for her to sign her buy slip, her hand appeared out from the long sleeve of her winter coat to reach for the pen.
And as she struggled to grasp the pen with her arthritic fingers and slanted swollen knuckles and then started signing her name...I....well, I
had to turn aside as I held in both the tears that had sprung up and the "Ha" of a laugh...
in seeing that Helen Jean, my mom, just wasn't done talking to me yet!
I wanted to double Patsy's offer on the spot! But, instead I just gave her a big smile and a heartfelt thank you for selling her books to us (on this day, in this hour). ?
On her way back out of the store, she stopped to pick up her boxes and as I handed them to her, her hand missed the bottom of the box and clasped mine, almost as tho we were holding hands. She said "Oh, I'm sorry!"
And I said "It's alright!
It's really alright...