I recently inexplicably started the daunting task of sifting through old emails, trying to make a dent in the 20,000 or so that have been clogging my oldest inbox for years. During my latest stolen session of unearthing and trashing emails in the middle of my hyper-scheduled day, my mind wandered–I am notorious for it–and I had a vivid flashback of my mom.
There she was, seated at her antique desk in her hodgepodge spare room–part office, part storage, part bedroom for her beloved grandson who delighted in his stays at “Chateau Grammy,” where delectable goodies were baked with love, where books came to life with her signature animated storytelling, where he once felt the most protected.
She was cozy in her floor length housecoat adorned with pastel flowers, with her blonde hair pushed off her achingly exquisite face. Her doe-shaped eyes were darting across her computer screen urgently, greedily.
“Hey, Jod, come here and read this,” she said, ushering me over with a gesture. Her arm looked devastatingly thin. It was no longer the arm that used to pull me in for reassuring hugs, or the one she used to show me what I did wrong, or the one that cradled my son when he was a baby.
“You will die laughing,” she said, throwing her head back in a fit of giggles.
The word “die,” one I used to toss around lightheartedly, lingered in the air. Although she meant nothing by it, I swallowed hard before I responded.
“Okay, Mom,” I said. I hope I didn’t roll my eyes. It was so late, and I was overtired and stressed.
I read it, the umpteenth forwarded joke she shared with me through the years. I laughed only to appease her, in the hopes she would go back to bed. I was consumed with anxiety about how her interrupted sleep affected her body, which was nearing the end of its fight for its very existence.
She was always a restless sleeper, getting rest in chunks of time instead of uninterrupted blocks. Eight hours was unheard of. She preferred to pass out with the television blaring–one of my pet peeves–after a late-night binge of joke sharing. My inbox used to “ding” so much at 3:00 a.m. that I set my phone to vibrate.
Nearly five years after her cruel death from ovarian cancer, it is still set to vibrate.
I can’t tell you how much I long for one of her forwarded jokes or false alerts about the latest sinister scam or ‘best daughter’ memes or delicious recipes I must try. No one contacts me at 3:00 a.m. anymore. It’s heartbreakingly silent. And this week, in anticipation of Mother’s Day, even more so.
My mom’s late night emails number in the thousands. If I simply delete the jokes that once bugged me, I would make a huge dent in my quest to tame my inbox.
But I can’t.
I have re-read some of them, and I do find myself laughing at the ones that remind me of her wicked sense of humor. And nestled in-between those jokes are beautiful emails from her, ones I need to read, especially today.
Thank you for a wonderful Mother’s Day, Jodi. Truly, when I saw our little guy and he climbed up next to me— his little kisses and his love and laughter make everything okay. You are doing a wonderful job raising your son, my sweet grandson. Just look at him! You’re so amazing, and if you ever forget it…just ask me or, if I am not there, ask him.
You are everything a mother could ever hope a daughter would be and more. You’re more than I deserve and more than I could have ever wished for…lucky me, so very lucky.
Now that you’re a mom you can truly understand the depth of love I have for you. I love you like you love Alex, from here to infinity—and that will never change. Thank you for sharing your heart and your life with me, and for making the words “Mother” and “Grandmother” mean so much. Happy Mother’s Day!
Thank you, Mom, for finding a way to reach me when I miss you most. I didn’t quite realize how much I needed to go through my emails.
Happy Mother’s Day.