When I get off the phone with my mother,
I always want something to eat
Hard, dark toast with lots of butter and a hunk of salty cheese, black tea with cream and honey.
I know I’m trying to fill myself up
fill up the empty spaces, everything that wasn’t said.
I’ve always wanted more.
And I always felt bad leaving my mother after a visit
She seemed so alone.
But I always wanted to leave
so I could get back to myself, something I could never be around her.
Now she’s 86. Lives in a brand new condominium, surrounded by neighbors of all ages. She has friends for the first time in her life since I’ve known her. She’s often in pain and tired, but she continues to live her life and seems as content as ever.
For a while, after I got divorced, our phone conversations were fraught. Me trying to explain my life and choices to her. Her not understanding.
Now they’re back to what they always were. She tells me about her day. Taking a walk, watching TV, what she had for breakfast. I tell her stories I think she’ll like, being careful not to go too far below the surface of safety.
We never learned how to talk to each other, but we know how to eat together.
Bagels and cream cheese, tea and dense, sweet desserts. Anything chocolate. It’s where we come together, something we share.
And at this point in her life
and in mine
I’m learning that it’s enough.