Monday, July 11th, 2011
We’d communicate through lilacs. That’s what my mom and I decided on my last visit to see her.
We debated between them and hyacinths. But she was the expert. She ran a successful plant and flower business for years– until her demons got the best of her. I trusted her instincts on this one. Plus, she reminded me, we had a big one in our yard growing up–and that my favorite color was lavender.
A week later I got the call. Her time was running out. There were probably only hours left.
I went desperately seeking a lilac bush. It was early June and I knew the season had passed. But surely there must still be one in bloom.
I found one with two blooms hanging on. They were past their perfect purple color, on the brink of death. But I could still close my eyes and inhale. I called my mom. Her caregiver put the phone to her ear.
“Mom, I’m standing here in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I’m smelling a lilac.” I heard a small moan. I went on to describe the setting. I could sense her smile. In life, nature was where she found peace and perfection. Nature could also survive the storms. She had too–for better or worse—until now.
“Remember to find me. Every year I will wait for them to bloom. And I’ll know you’re here with me,” I said through tears.
I heard a deep breath and sigh.
“I just wanted to make sure we have our plan in place,” I continued. “That you won’t forget.” My voice remained strong. For many years, I was the mother to my mother. This day was no exception.
“You can go now.”
I hung up the phone. That was the last time I spoke to her. She died two days later on June 7, 2011.
So now I wait until next spring when we talk again.
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