Friday, December 12, 2008
My mother killed herself six years ago this week. I felt close to her in the many months after her death. Really close. She came to me in my dreams, in frequent unexplained waftings of her perfume, in unanticipated bursts of the Mozart she used to play strong in my mind. I never really felt she’d completely left me behind. It seemed we inhabited a grey space somewhere between the living and the dead.
Years later I find we no longer live there together. I’ve shifted back to the realm of the living, and she to that of the dead. I miss meeting her in my dreams and have begun to wonder if, after a certain passing of time, the living and the dead lose their point of intersection forever.
My study is one of my favorite rooms in the house. It has my books, SJG’s clothes, all my personal papers, favorite framed prints, a comfortable reading chair and one of my mother’s lamps, and an assortment of the framed family photographs and artworks I gathered from her apartment after she died.
On a recent evening, I was in my study looking for something to show SJG when suddenly my bridal bouquet, dried and fragile now, fell from the bookcase behind me onto the floor. Wondering how the bouquet could have jettisoned from its sure perch, I bent down to pick up the scattered petals. Just as suddenly, one of the wooden hair sticks flew out of my tightly knotted bun, skidded across the floor, and split in two.
And then I noticed the photograph. The square black-and-white one from the 1950s. Fallen from its corner of my grandmother’s cross-stitched sampler, where it’s been tucked for six years. The one of my mother holding me, an infant, in front of her face. Where we’re smiling at each other as if there is no one else in the world worth smiling at. That makes me smile again and forget all the suffering. And that confirms for me that it is she, with me now in this room, at our point of intersection.