January 28th, 2022
When people leave you, they leave the things you can’t ask them, too.
Sometimes those mysteries are big and heavy and revelatory.
Sometimes they’re not. But they take up space in your mind just the same.
I saw a lady in a coat today, in the parking lot before we opened our doors. Her coat reminded me of my mom’s, so for a long moment, a moment I have lived through so many times in my life, I thought my mom was there to visit me.
She, of course, was not.
But in that moment, I knew I wanted to ask her why she would sweep her finger across my eyelashes to see if I was sleeping as a child.
I never asked her why. Or maybe I did. But if I did, I don’t remember what she said.
Because, if and when I asked her, I didn’t know I was never going to be able to ask her this again, and I held on to the answer uncarefully, confident that she would be there to answer this question if it ever recrossed my mind.
Instead, I spent a moment staring at a stranger in my mother’s coat who had none of her memories at all.
It’s in these moments that I feel the worst in me. I love humanity, but I question why so many horrible people get to continue to exist, but this extraordinary woman, who I have so many questions for, does not.
Years ago, I was missing my mom’s sloppy joe recipe, so I texted her for it. She wrote any- and everything down, so she dug into her store of recipe cards and found it for me.
I saved a photo of the recipe, and imagined that decades from now, when she was gone, I would be able to pull out these ingredients, this answer, in case we ever forgot.
I don’t know why I held on to this answer so well and let the other slip through the grates under my memories.
I meant to ask more questions. I meant to remember more answers.
The heavy ones have been easier to let go. The light ones have never felt so heavy.