My teeth cracked into tiny flavorless Altoids, swimming around in my mouth before I reluctantly spit them out into the white sink basin. I ran my tongue across the smooth caverns of my gums and clenched my stomach. I fished the basin for a full tooth, but as I found them they crumbled and rolled from my fingers. Clammy hands pressed against the salmon tiles of my bathroom, I hoisted my head to meet my reflection in the mirror. I awoke, dewy with sweat.
With liturgical diligence, I lit a candle and knelt before my mother’s urn. I plucked it from its base atop my grandfather’s coin collection box and held it, cold, in my palms. I kissed it and kissed it and kissed it, the metallic pearl flavor comingling with the taste of fresh tears.
I poured through a 2012 datebook I had once gifted her, caressing the presses of her pen. On days she had nothing on her calendar, she wrote about the dreams she had the night before.
I grabbed the candlestick and crept to the computer, where I listened to a handful of the voicemails she left me that I had saved. I first listened to the one I had saved as “laughter,” the only one I had that had captured her infectious belly laugh. I played it twice and began to write about the dreams I had the night before.
Grief is a new celebration. It is finding your own way to honor the once effortless days with new rites and rituals. It is bravely walking through the Hallmark aisle at Walgreens the week before Mother’s Day. I ask: what new customs have you begun to remember loved ones on days such as this? What customs can you no longer have?
Here’s to you on Mother’s Day, Mom.