Mourn Me and Move On

“My mother has been following me”.

If I leave that comment “as is”, it allows you to fabricate your own assumption as to it’s meaning. Is my mother a psycho sneaking about, hiding among the dark corners that parallel my life?  Is she shadowing my every move? Is she the quintessential hovering parent?

Keep in mind, the following detail is of utmost importance… my mother is NOT alive. It has been nine years as of last week that she passed on.

Since I don’t believe in ghosts nor spirits, you then deserve an explanation.

For nine years my mom, (although not in the physical and not in the spiritual either), has been hugely present in my life and in those that dearly loved her. When I find myself scolding my kids, her words spill effortlessly from my lips. When I took up drinking coffee after she passed, I “feel” her presence with the soothing aroma of every freshly made cup. My eight year old asked me the other day… “Mom, what’s that wonderful smell?” I told him “That wonderful smell is coffee, one of your Abuela Lola’s favorite things in the whole world”. When I push a glass away from the dangerous edge of a counter, or ask the kids to stop jumping on the couch, or when I make sure to make my bed every morning… she’s there.

When I see another gray hair, she’s there. When I splash on Jean Nate after a shower, she’s there. When I have a fried egg over white rice, she’s there. When I wake up the kids on a school morning with a song and when I sing “Pollito Chicken” to my 4-year-old every night, she’s there. When I remember to sit up straight, she’s there. And when someone asked me the other day why I was smiling, I told them “I do so because my mom taught me that your smile is your most important accessory”, she was there.

Those first two years without my mom were truly difficult. There wasn’t a thing that didn’t make me burst out in to tears. I had to make sure to bring my sunglasses with me everywhere I went, even wearing them indoors. I was extremely “homesick” for her every second. I was what you’d call a bumbling mess. The third and fourth year were a little better. Here’s the funny thing though, I now started to feel guilty that I wasn’t crying for her every minute. One of those damned if I did, damned if I didn’t moments in my life. Once I entered my mid 40’s and became more aware of my own mortality, I self reflected on the “circle of life” that would soon come to me and my own children.

Then it hit me…we can mourn and move onguilt free. I did so for my mom, and it’s what I desire for my own kids to do when I’m no longer physically around. I want them to “see and feel” me in the little things. I want them to recollect my silliness and my advice without feeling sad about it. I want them to hear a song that reminds them of me and feel compelled to dance, not cry. I want them to take in the aroma of a meal that I loved or made for them as children and relish in each bite. I want my stories passed on to my great-grandchildren with pride and not with sorrow.

This year on April 5th, the anniversary of her passing, I declared outwardly and promised everyone that the day would not be used to mourn my mother but to celebrate all the funny and memorable things that encompassed my mother’s past. I didn’t shed a tear. She would have been proud. That was her legacy. And all done with her most important accessory… A SMILE!

— The Pretty Platform

A Time Machine For a Cup of Coffee

“Try some coffee” she ordered.

I was ten. I was from a Puerto Rican household. Kids were allowed to drink coffee. With cheese. Yes, with cheese, IN the coffee. It was a thing. I tried the coffee. Didn’t like it. I can still remember the bitter taste. She had hers in a dainty Victorian cup and matching saucer. China white outlined with vintage pink roses. I yearned to sip anything from that cup. It was reserved just for coffee. I ate the cheese.

“Have some coffee” she said.

“You know I don’t like it” I retaliated. I was 15. I wouldn’t even try it again. I prepared myself some hot chocolate instead. I filled my mug and spooned out the mini marshmallows. I dumped them in to the sink. Her Bustelo canister and my ready mix individual packets were aside one another on the shelf. Both aromas competed with one another in that kitchen. The smell of the coffee triumphed.

“Would you like a taza de café? ” she teasingly asked.

“Oh Mom, always the hopeful soul” I retorted with a sigh. I was 23. I was out of the house. I was visiting. I was an adult. Older folks never listen. They never understand. Does she ask me to just annoy me? We sit across from one another at the table and catch up. We chat, we gossip, we laugh. She sips from that vintage cup with the pink roses. I can’t believe she still has it. I think it has a small chip on the handle.

“Join me for some coffee” she pleaded.

“I really don’t know how you like that stuff” I maintained. I was 30. I held firm. I was proud. I go through her fridge looking for a suitable substitute. I need to drink something. I couldn’t join her empty handed. She explained the beauty in a cup. In the taste. In the smell. I agreed with her on the smell. She educates me. She takes it black. No tainting. I tell her I can’t relate. I scrunch my nose in apparent disapproval.

“Please get me some coffee” she sighed.

“Black and two tablespoons of sugar, right?” I asked. I’m was 35. She responded in the positive. That Victorian cup is no longer around. That makes me sad. Mom is older, weaker. I pour the coffee in to her new pink mug. It says Delores in cursive on the front. A sturdy mug for her fragile hands. She sips it carefully. Smiles at the smell. She leans back comfortably, satisfied after taking a taste. I noticed she didn’t offer me any coffee. I sort out her medication.

“Would you like some coffee with desert?” the waitress asked.

“No thank you” I sadly replied. I could hear my Moms voice. I was 38. My husband kindly holds my hand. He squeezes it with compassion. He knows. I miss my Mom. It was a difficult two years. She’s everywhere. Everything reminds me of her. There are so many regrets no matter how much you’re there. I start pulling every detail apart. I wish I could go back in time. I need a time machine. I want to smell her freshly brewed coffee. I want the vintage cup with pink roses.

“Would you like anything else with your coffee?” asked the girl behind the counter.

“No, just the coffee please” I respond. I waited on that line for so long. I was 41. The wait is worth it. Yes, I drink coffee now. I yearn a coffee every morning. I take mine just as I was taught. Black, no tainting. I stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar. I like it a little sweeter than she did, but still allowing some of the bitterness to come through. I smile after taking a slow careful sip. The smell always reminds me of her. She’d be delighted to know.

“Do you want the coffee maker in green or red?” asked my husband.

“Green, although red would remind me of mom” I stated. He knows red was her favorite color. I finally chose the green. I was 42. My first coffee maker at home. It sits proudly on my counter. A single serve maker. I’m the only one that drinks coffee. Irony at its best. I’m not a fan of Bustelo. My choice is Colombian, dark roast. That first brew fills my kitchen. It feels like a hug from my Mom. I’m comforted even before tasting it.

No more coffee questions.

I’m now 43. This daily routine is a huge part of me. It completes my day even before it starts. I wish I could go back. I understand now. I feel it. The smell, the taste, the process actually brings people together. A club of sorts. A comradeship. I want that time machine. I want to take her up on her offer. I want us to both sip from our Victorian cups together. I want to taste HER coffee. I want to say that my mom made the best coffee. I bet she did.

— Elke

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