Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day and Passing Moments

I woke up this May morning to snow falling fast outside my recently open windows.  While still in bed, my husband said:  We'll have to turn the heat on;  I heard it's supposed to snow.  Honestly, I thought he was a little crazy until I saw it myself.  Then I thought maybe I was crazy.  I settled on the whole world being crazy, and rethought my plan for the day, which had involved hiking.

I couldn't bear the thought of being stuck inside all day long, and the libraries all close on Sunday, so we decided to take the toddler swimming at the YMCA, and then out for pizza afterward.  We had a great time swimming, and since we were over on the side of town where we used to live, decided to hit up one of our old pizza parlor favorites.  Driving down those familiar streets is always pleasant; we lived there for over four years, and the neighborhood was in flux the whole time, and continues to change, so there are always new houses and businesses to see, as well as old friends and familiar haunts.

We ran into our old neighbor, the boy who told me he didn't see any of me in my son right after he was born, and he's so tall now!  A high schooler instead of a middle schooler, and his family moved out of the old neighborhood too.  We passed the hospital where my son was born, and where this next one might not be born, as they just banned VBACs, and I'd like to try one.  Sitting in the pizza shop, cutting a slice into smaller pieces for my son, a Billy Joel song my aunts used to listen to came on the radio, carrying me back to my childhood.  I haven't seen as much of my aunts since my grandmother died a few years ago.  I looked outside and saw the small Vietnamese market where our best friend used to buy egg roll wraps.  He said they were the best in town all those times he tried--and mostly failed--to teach us the homemade egg roll recipe he learned from his Thai mother.  It was the rolling that was so hard to master.  He ended up in Hollywood after a short stint in the psych ward following a suicide attempt and the dissolution of his decade long marriage.  He survived though, and seems to be thriving, after that long summer of fear and uncertainty.  That fall I got pregnant, he left town, and everything changed for us all.  It hasn't stopped changing yet.  His ex-wife and I keep trying to catch up with each other, and our schedules keep conflicting.  They were our closest friends for years.  One of these days we will catch up, but I'm not sure when.

Standing in the gloomy light of a greasy pizza parlor around the corner from the hospital where my son was born, running into an old neighbor who's suddenly more man than boy, listening to a Billy Joel song from my own childhood while cutting pizza for my son, thinking of family lost, and best friends scattered across the country like dandelion wishes, the new life growing inside my body a reminder that nothing ever stays the same ..... that babies become children and children become grownups, and girls become mothers and then grandmothers and then ghosts ..... it sounds sad, but it wasn't.  The past, and the present, and the future welled up inside me like a symphony, and all the sadness and loss mingled with the promise and potential of tomorrow, and I mostly felt very, very happy with today. 

Snow in May, and swimming at the Y, and pizza in a neighborhood that once was mine, and is daily claimed anew by the footprints of children born into this upstate city that isn't mine by birth, but that I claim daily with footprints of my own: the birth of my babies, and the payment of my mortgage, and the upkeep of my home, and the making and losing of friends, all of which are passing events, and will make marks deep enough to be permanent on my heart, but barely shadows in this big, beautiful world where we're lucky enough to spend today celebrating motherhood.

I have no wish for sun today.  Snow in May is beautiful enough, for now.  And my heart is so full.

Happy Mother's Day.

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