I’m up. I can’t sleep. My throat hurts. I have a headache. It would seem I’ve caught my son’s cold. I want my mom. Even when you’re a middle aged woman whose been without her mother for many more years than she was with her, you still want your mom when you’re sick. That’s just the way life works.
The very first time I ever rode in a limousine was the day my mother was buried. I remember it taking us to the same Catholic church we had been to countless times before. My parent’s faith forced me in those pews every Sunday. It was never my choice. This time, though, I would not be bored. I would not be resentful. On this day, my sadness would not be able to make room for any other feelings.
I don’t remember much from that day. I can’t tell you what I wore or what priest said in the eulogy. All I remember is the casket and the rain. I sat, staring at the box, in utter disbelief that my mother’s body was inside. Every second that ticked away was one closer to my never having her near me again. Then, the skies opened up, a torrential downpour.
I remember it being loud, painfully so. It was so loud it seemed as if the drops could pierce skin. It made you duck for cover even though you were already there. The severity of the storm made sense. It seemed fitting that the sky was falling on the day my mother would be put six feet under. And, as fast as it came, it stopped. The clouds parted just in time for us to stay dry as we departed the church and got to our cars.
Then, it came again, absolute torrents of rain running in every direction until we arrived at the cemetery, where it stopped again. We said our last farewells at her graveside and returned to our cars. As soon as we began our procession back to the funeral home, buckets of water fell upon us. We couldn’t help but laugh. Only mom could make this so. She was the kind of woman that had the power to stop and start weather at her will.
I was sixteen when my mother was taken from me, but the truth is I never really had her. Beneath her stoic exterior there was always an undercurrent of sadness. I could not tell you she was a nurturer. You never ran to her to feel comfort, but she had a brand of dry humor that made her endearing and she was the smartest person I’ve ever known. In our home, under the suffocating atmosphere created by our father, she held her own with an admirable strength.
The thing about mothers is, no matter how distant or imperfect they are, a child will always want their love. Even now, almost 30 years after losing her, knowing that if she were alive she would be less than sympathetic to my sore throat, I still want my mom to hold me. I want her to make me a cup of tea and bring me a blanket and tell me everything is going to be okay.
My mother’s not here. She won’t tuck me in. She can’t bring me medicine. There will be no positive maternal affirmations. So, here I sit, on the porch in my purple plaid pajama pants and my weathered Florida State sweatshirt, with chilly feet and aching joints. I don’t care that I’m cold. It matters not that I’m uncomfortable because all around me is the sound of rain.
If you’ve ever wondered why I love the rain, why it comforts me and makes me smile, now you know. The patter I hear on the windows, the mist that makes the leaves glisten, the puddles and the grey skies are not just a reminder of the day she left me. They’re a reminder of her strength and power and determination. They bring me back to the day she made her presence known. My mother may not be here in her mortal form, but she is alive in every drop of rain that falls from the sky. Right now, that is all the nurturing I need.