Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Unexpected Sunshine

As I wove my car in and out of the various lines of traffic, navigating the bustling streets of Nashville on a Tuesday morning, I rattled off my to-do list in my head and sang whatever song randomly appeared on my iPhone. But as I cruised up the ramp which would lead me into downtown, it hit me. Like the proverbial "ton of bricks" an overwhelming need to talk to my Mom took hold of me.

In the ten years since she's been gone, I've often felt melancholy and wished that I could pick up the phone and call her or share a particular milestone or happening in my life. But this was different. This was a numbing, urgent desire to talk to her, to hear her voice. After her death, I found a book titled Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman. One passage really stuck with me as she described a time many years after her mother's death. She was simply crossing an intersection and was suddenly gripped with grief. In her words:
“When a daughter loses a mother, the intervals between grief responses lengthen over time, but her longing never disappears. It always hovers at the edge of her awareness, prepared to surface at any time, in any place, in the least expected ways.” 

As I turned off the ramp onto Broadway, my mind flooding with thoughts of all the many things she had missed over the past decade, the playlist switched to its next song. As soon as I heard the opening notes, tears welled up in my eyes and began to spill over onto my cheeks. "Sunshine, on my shoulders, makes me happy...." The sound of John Denver's voice quickly faded into that of my mother's. It was the song she used to sing to me as I would fall asleep. I could actually hear her voice as I drove through downtown towards my office. It was as if she were wrapping her arms around me and speaking to me with those lyrics I had been marinated in throughout my childhood.

"If I had a day that I could give you
I'd give to you a day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I'd sing a song to make you feel this way..." 
She was there. She was listening to me talk about the stresses of my job and raising a family. She was counseling me on love and loss and fear and contentment and all of the things I struggle with on a daily basis. She was flopping down her oversized purse on my couch and sitting with her legs tucked underneath her ready to listen to all the thoughts I wanted and needed to share.

I am blessed with many dear friends with whom I can open up and share life's challenges. And, I like to think that I've done pretty well trying to balance and be a Mom without the guidance and wisdom of my own to reply upon. But sometimes I long for her input and counsel, for the touch of her petite, yet strong, hands on my arm providing what I'm sure she always considered unwelcome motherly advice. Perhaps that's why her presence was so strongly felt on my drive to work this morning.

It was a nice visit and, as I made the last turn into my office, I wiped the tears from my eyes. With a little help from my Mom and John Denver, I had a renewed feeling that it was all going to be okay.