“Time is the school in which we learn.”
I don’t want to write about my mother. I don’t even really want to think about her, which, of course, I feel immediately guilty for saying out loud. It’s also not true. I do want to think about her, and write about her, I just don’t want those thoughts and words to be sad or painful anymore. I don’t want to be possessed by grief, or by the unanswered questions surrounding her death. I don’t want to pen another depressing Mother’s Day missive, tinged with longing and regret.
But as I think about all the motherless daughters (and sons) out there, facing the onslaught of greeting cards and flowers and an entire industry built around trumpeting “Mom’s special day,” I also feel that it’s important to be honest. I feel that it’s important to say that for some of us, Mother’s Day is just a day we have to endure, a day we need to get through. And there’s nothing shameful or wrong in admitting that.
My mother is everywhere lately. She’s been showing up in my dreams on the regular, uninvited, in places where she normally wouldn’t be, in places that don’t make sense.
They’re not bad dreams, not scary or unpleasant. Most of the time I don’t even remember them; they fade from view as soon as I wake up. I only know that in my subconscious mind, my mom and I have been spending a lot of time together lately.
Maybe it’s because the calendar has flipped to May, which was always her month. The month of Mother’s Day and her birthday, but also the month when spring flowers bloom, after those proverbial April rains that never seem to fall in Los Angeles. My mother was an avid gardener. She loved planting things and watching them grow.
So maybe it is the season. Or maybe it’s just the place I’m at in my life – one of uncertainty and change – that has me craving maternal guidance. There are so many questions I want to ask her, so many things I want to say. There’s something about losing your parents that propels you into adulthood in a way that simply getting older never can. There’s something strangely disorienting about no longer needing to seek permission or approval, of having to own your life choices – both good and bad – because they are yours, alone.
The Jacarandas are blooming in Los Angeles. All over the city, trees burst with purple flowers, blossoms spilling onto the street, leaving a trail of vibrant lavender. I’ve always loved the color of Jacaranda purple, even before I knew Jacarandas were a thing. It was the color of my high school bedroom, and I remember feeling cheerful and happy inside of those walls. Even now, there’s something soothing and dreamy about those bluish violet flowers filling up the sky. Some days, a walk through my neighborhood feels like stepping onto the canvas of an Impressionist painting.
But as pretty as they are, Jacarandas are also a real nuisance. Their flowers float down from the sky in droves, blanketing the streets with purple carcasses. And as they turn brown and die, they leave a sticky, slippery, gelatinous residue on everything they touch. Park your car underneath a shedding Jacaranda tree for more than a few minutes, you begin to hate the things.
I suppose, like everything in life, it’s about perspective. If you look up, the Jacaranda trees are beautiful. Look down, not so much.
I’m trying to keep that in mind as I approach this Mother’s Day. On difficult days, looking up toward the sky doesn’t always come naturally. But when you do – if you can – it’s bound to be more beautiful.
Until next time, friends.