Today, I had to make M&M cookies. I don’t do it often. But lately, I’ve been missing my mother’s cookies. In my mind’s eye, I can see and smell the ones she used to make. I needed them today.
Sometimes I’m startled by how much I miss my mother. How the pain of not having her with me any longer will come rushing in, and sometimes it’s hard for me to know exactly what brought it on. It can be something obvious — a photo glides by on my screensaver, my sister brings up an old family funny, a water tower catches my attention (we often joked that Mother should write a book about water towers and entitle it, Water Towers I Have Known; she loved them so.) Other times it takes me a bit of searching to find the trigger — a seasoning in something I’m cooking, a flower on a page in a book I’m reading to my children, the sound of someone’s voice at nearby table in a restaurant where we’re dining. Mother is always with me in one way or another. This time of year the reminiscing comes often. Though it is sudden, and often, for a few moments, painfully crushing, it’s easy to pinpoint what brings her to mind these days. Mother loved summer. She loved to sit outside under huge trees and listen to the multitude of leaves rush around above her head. And, despite her seasonal allergies, she adored the cottonwood that would float around in the sunshine at the beginning of the season. She loved the heat and humidity, and often said she could smell fireflies in the evening air on such a June evening.
I grew up loving fireflies. Still do, of course, as evidenced by the title of my blog. (*see note below) Mother used to say that I came when the fireflies came, and each year they came out for my birthday. And they are indeed out just before my birthday each year. Yesterday was the first truly hot summer day we’ve had this season. I mentioned to the children that I wouldn’t be surprised if the fireflies made their appearance in the evening. And sure enough, last night we saw the first one. We caught it, fawned over it, thanked it for finding us, and set it free. I miss my mother in those moments. I miss her when I enjoy my children’s excitement over being outside late into the night. When we sit in that encompassing warmth of a summer’s eve and look at the moon, a beautiful golden crescent with a solid bright circle around it. I miss her when we watch the families of ducks gather on a small island in the middle of the river & settle in as a family, while my family and others chat and play on the Riverwalk, a couple hours past children’s typical bath & bed time. (But, yes! stay up and stay out — enjoy these hours and making these memories that will last for always.) And, I miss my sweet mother when I pull out one of the books about the moon, from my hefty collection of picture books about the moon and the night, and read it to one of my children late on such a summer’s night.
But, in the missing her, there is a warmth and a smile. A heart smile that shows itself often in a few tiny tears that come whether I try to stop them or not. She is always with me in these remembrances, and though sometimes it hurts, I wouldn’t choose not to remember. If I was honest, many of the things that I love about myself come from her pouring into me the essence of who she was. Many of the things I love about my children come from my mother’s efforts to grow me into a kind and caring human being. And I love how creation, from the cottonwood and the humidity, to the moon and the fireflies, will always be there to remind me of her. They take me back to times I’ve loved, times gone by, to a Mother that shows up always in the memories that are dear to me, even when she is no longer here to make new ones. And I am grateful for them, even if they come packaged in tears. Because, in the choosing to remember, she is indeed as near as the warm summer breeze, the gathering ducks, or glowing moon in the night sky. As I celebrate another year of life in a couple days, I am thankful for the years behind me, the fireflies that showed up right on time, and the memories I get to treasure and pull out again and again, season after season, of the mother that gave me this life.
*On the subject of ‘wildfyrfly’, let me just take an aside here and clear up the reason for my choosing to misspell ‘firefly’ in my blog title. Shortly before I was born, Mother saw the name ‘Dayna’ in print in a newspaper. She loved it, and decided to give me the name when I was born. “Y” and all. It was a tricky spelling, apparently, and for reasons I don’t understand, people struggled with the pronunciation of my name my entire growing up years. I did not care for the “Y” back then, but treasure it today. Therefore, it takes a place of honor in my blog title. You will not, however, find me frequenting a car wash with the name “Kleen Kars.” It causes me to shudder and pass on by.*