Perhaps she would drop a few ice cubes into her glass of wine, staying for a bit after picking up her grandson, my son, from basketball practice. I’d stop whatever I was doing – prepping dinner, or helping my daughter with homework – and we’d chat for a moment, her and I, as adults now. I try to imagine what this would be like; in my mind I’d never be rushed, like I often am at the witching hour. When my mom stops by I’d pause, I’d look into her blue eyes and talk to her, and she would listen, and I would too. We’d sit at the small breakfast table, or out back while the sun started to descend and before night set in, and we’d talk. She’d tell me about what she was planning to make my Dad for dinner; she’d have some meat thawing on the counter, something she took out first thing in the morning from the freezer in the garage. She’d tell me about the news with my sisters and the other grandchildren. She’d ask if I went to church last Sunday. I wonder what I’d say; I wonder if I would be going to church, or if I wouldn’t be, and what version of the truth I would tell her.
But she doesn’t stop in, because I don’t live anywhere near my parents. In fact, where I live, not many people just stop by. I don’t know if that was something particular to where I grew up, or to the era when I grew up; nowadays everything is planned, organized, texted, RSVP’d. I can’t imagine my mother with an iPhone. But perhaps she’d figure it out.
There’s another reason why she doesn’t stop in; because she doesn’t live, anymore. Her heart stopped beating long ago, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop having imaginary conversations with her. How do I put on makeup, Mom? What should I say to the boy who asked me to the dance? How do I get my brother to stop fighting with Dad? Where should I go to college, Mom? Will you visit me there? Should I go abroad for a year, or not? I’m not getting married in a church, Mom, are you okay with that? I’m pregnant Mom, what do I do now? Yes, we will baptize the children, but not in a church. We are doing it our own way. Will you still come? Was nursing terrible for you, my breasts are bleeding, what do I do? How do I get this baby to stop crying, Mom?
I desperately want to talk to her, to ask her questions, to listen to her replies, to watch her clank the ice cubes around in her watered down wine. But the thirteen-year-old girl she left behind didn’t know how to converse as an adult. Would I have figured out how to do that with her? That moment, the one when she slipped from this earth and I no longer had a living mother, is frozen in time, and I want the reel to keep playing.