It was only ten long years ago when I saw her last. We had just moved to the Nashville area, yet this weekend I was once again working in Birmingham (as I would for many years). I don’t even remember where and for whom I was playing. All I know is that Katrina was ravaging the Gulf and was making herself known even this far north and beyond. I was anxious to get back to the new house in Tennessee that would be home for the long decade to come.
She was ill, and had been for a while. My visits were becoming more infrequent despite my continued presence in the area. There was more than a share of guilt and fear that shadowed my heart, and my memories of hospitals and abandonment played out in my avoidance of those hurts and the frail, aging woman who seemingly embodied them.
It had been a long day, and night and Katrina’s storms were falling. I had promised to stop by on the way back, but still wrestled with myself as to find a way to circumvent the visit.
Love and loyalty and guilt won out over fear and hurt when I saw my mother for the last time.
All I remember was the watery gleam of her eyes in the flickering glow from the nearby television. She couldn’t speak, forcing me to mumble pleasantries and empty promises for my next visit. She opened her mouth and the words “I love you” crumbled from her lips. I replied in kind, kissed her dry as dust cheek, and left for my long drive.
It seemed that I rode Katrina’s coat tails on the way back, my car buffeted by wind and constant rain. My heart was heavy and my thoughts filled with images and memories of my mom.
While her spirit didn’t find release until the early part of March, my farewell was granted on a stormy night in August ten years gone.
Much has changed and much has been lost. While memory remains I embrace the moments that define a life, and learn the lessons of last times.
“Cross the River”
I cross the river
And I think of you
Memories haunt me
But you never do
The river is deep
This river wide
Wide as my longing
Deep as my pride
River flow on to the sea
River roll and set me free
River flow inside my soul
Wash the stains and make me whole