My Mother: When you get to Cleveland, I want my ashes on the left side of Grandma Kay.
Me: Ok. I could bring a little shovel.
My Mother: Bring a bulb planter.
Me: Oh, good idea.
My Mother: Then, go to Harvey’s back room and get a slab of ribs for me.
Me: I can’t eat that kind of thing.
My Mother: Well then go to that wonderful Chinese place on Coventry…
Me: I’m not sure it’s still there…
My Mother: Oh, they had the best crab rangoon.
Me: Jeeze, you really do miss the food here.
My Mother: Speaking of food, you should cook something special tomorrow.
Me: Like what?
My Mother: Oh come on, Jessica. Be creative.
Me: Nothing I make is edible these days. I’m thinking of signing up for one of those meal plans where they send you food.
My Mother: You can do better than that. I’ve always told you- get out your legal pad, write out a menu, and stick to it.
Me: That never works for me.
My Mother: If you say so. I used to love roasting a pork butt. It was so yummy and I’d have it the whole week.
Me: I’m not going to buy a pork butt.
My Mother: I know you’re not.
Me: And even if I did, it would never work here. Chris would eat the whole thing and the house would go up in flames from all the methane.
My Mother: Oh Jessica. You make me laugh. This is too much fun. See what happens when you’re not on that stupid fucking computer?
Me: I know… I miss you so much.
My Mother: You don’t know the half of it.
Me: Have you visited other people?
My Mother: I visit my sister sometimes but she never hears me. She’s too busy with that swifter thing.
Me: What about your mother? Have you seen her in the after world?
My Mother: No, I have not.
Me: I wonder what happened to her? I can see her face in my mind, that look of pride she had.
My Mother: Indignance.
Me: Do you think she ever found peace?
My Mother: I think the wind probably blew her away and left in her place a pillar of salt, from all the tears she never released.
Me: Life is so sad.
My Mother: It is sad, honey… I wish so much that things could have been different… I wish so very much that I had been in a position to write a different script.
Me: Me, too… Will I ever get to see you again? I mean, really see you?
My Mother: I don’t know, Jess. I’m not sure what will happen… I’m still doing a lot of work over here.
Me: Are you still my mother?
My Mother: (laughing) Oh, Jess. You sound just like the little bird from that Dr. Seuss story. (laugh) Of course I am your mother. But you should know- the connection we have is beyond that –we have a precious connection, Jess. A connection that reached beneath our secrets to what was real. We left nothing unsaid. We’ve seen each other at our best and our worst. Only connections that real can last.
My Mother: Live your life while you have it, Jess. Because it’s true what they say – it’ll be over before you know it. Trust me. Stop planning your swan dive, honey. Your only job is to leave your truth and beauty wherever you go, even if it’s just across your fucking house. Wherever you are matters. I hope you believe me. It is neither a sign of humility or good character to doubt yourself – it is a sign of internal cowardice – of secretly fearing being humiliated by all those other selves in nothing but the same exact predicament as you. You don’t have time to cancel out the best parts of yourself. You don’t have time for interactions where nothing of substance passes through. You don’t have time to pollute your moments with mindless pleasantries and mildly amusing sarcasm. Your job is to give your attention to what truly matters to you, and you are the only one who gets to say what that is. Do you hear me?
Me: Yes. Thank you.
My Mother: You are welcome. Now close your fucking computer and go take a shower.