I held my grown up baby in my arms as we stood on the drop-off lane at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. I felt her strong little body envelop me, and hold me close to her heart.
Transported back to a time when her body was mine and mine was hers, when there were no lines to define her from me, or me from her, our embrace defined us as one.
Time was timeless.
There was noting to say. Our hearts beat as one;
The embrace exhaled itself, and when our eyes met, I saw my own tears pool in her beautiful, dark eyes.
Then our tears evaporated into the Texas humidity. I turned, pulling my two big suitcases in my wake.
Simultaneously, I stayed with her, and she followed me.
My boy holds my heart, nestled between the belly of his soul and the folds in his brain.
I wanted to see him before leaving for Dubai. He in NYC, me in Indiana, Delaware, then Texas, I kept looking for flights so we could be together. His steady response was to save the money. He will come at Christmas time, he kept reminding me, and explained over and over that it would be better to use the money for that instead.
“Instead” mean only one option, not both. Not all.
I don’t want either/or; I want and/also.
But my boy is practical.
After my baby drove away, I checked my bags and found my boarding gate.
I sat down, looked around, and then I called the man who I still refer to as “my monkey boy” and “my Velcro baby”. He was given those nicknames because he clung to me from infancy until about the fifth grade. But even as he pulled away and forged his own way in the world, he had secured my heart inside of him so that even in his grownup silence, I still know that any separation is insignificant.
I called him from the boarding gate and pushed my voice through the pool of honey-thick tears at the back of my throat. He heard the stifled sobs in my meaningless words, held them tenderly, like broken wings, in the steady lullaby of his voice. He cradled my soul.
Momma is 96 years old.
She doesn’t know that she has Alzheimer’s.
She lives in a care facility.
She knows herself, and she knows her family.
Momma no longer has the ability to filter herself.
She feels what she feels and she voices all feelings without reserve.
Momma’s truth is raw and immediate.
“Momma, I’m going to Dubai,” I told her.
“Dubai. Goodbye! Dubai. Goodbye.” She giggled. Then stopped. “Why are you going to Dubai?” she asked.
“I got a job there. I’m going to teach.”
“Well, you sure do have some original ideas,” she said, smiling into my eyes.
“You do too, Momma.”
“Yes, I suppose I do. That makes us a great team!” We put our foreheads together and scrunched up our noses at one another. Her skin felt like silk.
“I’ll miss you,” she said to me, pulling away.
“I’ll miss you too, Momma.”
In the pause that followed, we were mother and child in a soul embrace, like lazy lovers entwined in a hammock. Cloud images that morph seamlessly, shapes that can’t be captured, the pause appeared and vanished.
I was thankful for the awareness of love.
“But it’s a wonderful opportunity for you,” she said, as her eyes turned, peering deep into a distant horizon that is her own private mystery.