Things My Mother Left Behind

I’ve always loved balloons – the little spit-filled ones and the ones of vast adventures – all carriers of dream cargo, great and small, each defiant of impossibilities. I’ve loved them even though they never last. I still feel the sudden belly ache of accidentally letting go, the desperate stretch and empty grasp, the dashing to retrieve the ones that lift away. And I lament the ones protected in the house, for days buoyant at the ceiling until they dip and hover magically above the floor, finally to shrivel and fall. My heart still stops for the suddenly, alarmingly popped and broken ones. Susceptible to fire, earth, and rain, balloons rise on air.

For five months, now, like house balloons, a little beaded necklace and a bag of chia seeds impossibly have hovered above the shelf in the next bedroom. For five months, impossibly, she has only just put them down, just now forgotten them, and will so soon be back to retrieve them that the shelf can’t quite ground them. Buoyant with the imminence of her grasp, balloon-like in the brief touchdown and impossible lift as I glance in. I’ve protected them.

In a glance, they are in her hands again – retrieved and rising on the breeze of her return, light, and lifted, if monumentally fragile.

Not today. Today I look closer and they sit heavy, unclaimed, grounded, abandoned. Every day for five months radiant, ephemeral presences touched by her only moments ago, but today they hover low, deflated, no promise of lift on a sudden gust – about to land for good. Five months past.

I step in. This room is where she slept the night of our last slumber party. That next morning she left behind the small, beaded necklace with the bag of chia seeds. I must remember to bring them to her tomorrow, I told myself daily, for a week. Week’s end caught her at emergency, never again to slumber here. She floated nineteen days – tossed by changing winds and chance – between earth and infinity.

Utterly immovable, these items now remain among the things she left behind.

My mother caught a light, June breeze; lifted up and up, away from the shelf of earth that housed and grounded her, from the oxygen tubes that primed her rise, from the torrents of our tears that would rain her back to us, if torrents of tears were such. With nowhere else to turn, or toss, she didn’t sink or break – she escaped above the burning ache of death. Suddenly, alarmingly, we couldn’t catch her. Irretrievable, she rose on air to the oblivion beyond the clouds, to where the pull of earth, the push of water, the burn of fire are not.

She is now a dream I have – a fragile cargo, great and small, who defies in my sleep the impossibility of her own return.

Hovering here against the clawing pull, the drowning pressure, the breaking burn, I yet remain among the things my mother left behind.

My mother, dreaming, in 1953.

Gossamer Universe All Rights Reserved 2018


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