Tuesday, March 19, 2013


In January and February of 2005, a public work of art hung in New York's Central Park.  The work, called "The Gates" was the creation of a husband-wife team of Bulgarian artists known as Christo and Jean-Claude. It consisted of 7,503 deep saffron colored nylon panels that spanned 23 miles and it was a sight to see, a real happening that invited thousands of us to become part of the art.  We were a work in progress and we strolled along with the realization that the gates opened up for us and led each of us to a different place in our minds.

I received a telephone message yesterday.  It was from my mother's cousin, the daughter of her mother's sister.  For years, my mother and her younger cousin kept in touch, each catching the other up on the lives that went on in between their phone calls. She had not been informed of her cousin's death and called to offer her condolences.  I sensed in her voice, a tiny bit of admonishment for not having called her with the news and found that disturbing.

The days have rolled into months and I often have to count back on my fingers to remind myself of how long it has been since my mother died. It's been eight months.   I miss her but not in an incapacitating way. I still have days when I am profoundly sad and tears come to my eyes at the slightest of provocations.  A phone call, a grocery list found in a pocket, a tube of half used lipstick, an array of weight loss guide books, a list of passwords for on-line shopping sights, a recall of those lunches we shared, each of us in charge of a pre-school child.  Splitting the bill on a "lunch special". The two times I witnessed my mother losing her balance and falling to the ground, humiliated at the degree of difficulty in regaining her stance.  The disappointments that I could have prevented.  The mother-daughter outings I failed to suggest as we aged together. The glimpse into the intimacies of her life that failing health and then death afford an only daughter. One by one, the thoughts drift in and out of my mind as if there was a series of gates, each leading to yet another.

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