Mother’s Day in Past Tense

barbara coatsworth, whit, tiffany, whitney, fanny, tiffy, honea, phoenix

The early years were covered in clay, glaze, and all the colors of the rainbow. There were assorted bits of things called art and the macaroni and the glitter and the words I wrote across the pictures I drew. There were cards made by hand and wilted flowers cut from the garden long left to drown in overflowing jars of lukewarm water. There may have been breakfast in bed, and it may have been edible. But probably not.

At some point the cards became rigid, glossy, and full of generic sentiment written by a faceless person in a distant cubicle. That’s the price of progress—creativity is no match for the convenience of cards that seal with a little golden sticker and leave our minds to wonder about what really matters like nothing and the meaningless motions we all go through. I should have crossed out the words printed inside and replaced them with my own thoughts, my own message, but they were close enough and it never dawned on me that they wouldn’t do.

There would be brunch at a place you liked, where other women wore large hats like so much status, and you would laugh about life and mimosas while mariachis rose above the din on the strum of strings and the echo of a muted trumpet. Sometimes we would sing along.

Then the afternoon would drift between this and that until we found ourselves where we always did, on a stretch of grass covered by blankets and glasses of wine. There would be another meal, a candle or two, and the company of strangers spilling like a sea over hills of green ground until they stopped sudden against the bandstand, and the music began to play.

I remember the stars the most, how they twinkled in turn to the tunes always playing. They appeared one at a time, each a wish upon someone’s whisper, and as the sunset faded from orange to pink to deep, dark purple, they filled the heavens with perspective and promise. They danced a dance of ageless grace, and they twisted themselves into shapes for our finding and something bright to swing our hopes upon.

It was all for Mother’s Day, and it was all for you.

This is the first year without cards or phone calls. There is no need for shipping long-distance bouquets or those silly things that made me think of you. There is nothing but stars, just like you left them, and a lifetime to wonder where it is you shine.

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