There is a sadness that lives beneath my consciousness of being extravagantly blessed. It has to do with the slowing down of the old people, with the sense that these people I love so much will one day soon be gone from me. Mostly, I just miss my mom.
The warm weather is back, it's a glorious day outside, and the association I have is this is the season when my mother turns her mind to flying back north, to her little treehouse studio across the way. Two weeks ago, she returned to St. Lucia after several months in Jamaica with my brother. She sounds happy to be back in her home, despite being down with the flu, and despite the fact that she is even weaker than when she left New York last November. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that she may not fly north this spring or summer. She may want to settle where she is for a while, all the artifacts of a life spent with my dad around her, with the woman who has kept her house for more than two decades, an angel in mortal coil who held her as my father lay dying, watching over her. Meanwhile, back in New York, her apartment sits empty, waiting for her return, all her things as if she had simply gone upstairs to visit her sister.
And that is another thing. Aunt Winnie is so near to the end now. I think my mother does not know how she would go on in that building without her beloved oldest sister upstairs. Thinking about it, I can feel how lonely she would be, all of us away at work or at school during the days, my mother alone and frail in her treehouse studio, contemplating the incremental losses that accompany the privilege of growing old. I miss her with an aching I cannot describe. So do her grandchildren, who are mourning the carefree August days they used to spend with her each summer of their childhood and adolescence. We have all decided that we will have to find some days in our busy grown-up summer to re-inhabit that memory, filling her house in St. Lucia with the cacophony of voices and laughter and sprawling bodies, cherishing the time.