I sat in Mama’s lap, underneath the willow tree. We whispered songs in each others ears as the branches of the three swayed around us. We soon fell asleep to the willow’s whispering songs. I awoke in my own bed, in my own room. I sat up and put my old, white and pink, rose embroidered robe on, the one with the holes and worn patches where Mama would wipe her hands when this robe was hers. I walked outside with Nola, my two year old husky that Mama had gotten for me a year and a half ago. I threw her ball for her until Daddy joined me outside at dawn. As usual, he watched from the door. We watched the rise before going in. Daddy begins to cook pancakes, Mama’s favorite. I set the table for three. Nola took the jug of grape juice, Mama’s favorite, and set it on the table, just how Mama taught her. Daddy put exactly one buttermilk pancake, one wheat pancake, and one chocolate pancake on Mama’s plate in a stack. I poured exactly one tablespoon of strawberry syrup, one tablespoon of blueberry syrup, and one tablespoon of maple syrup over the pancakes. Then Daddy and I got pancakes and syrup so our plates look exactly like Mama’s. We poured our grape juice so all three glasses had the exact same amount. Nola took her place in her crate, where she always watched us eat before we served her. Daddy and I ate in silence. About halfway through, we saw Mama walk in, wearing her rose robe, the exact one I was wearing. We watched her sit down and begin to eat. We stared and rubbed our eyes and stared some more. “What are you staring at?” She asked us. “Well, you, of course.” I responded. “Why?” Mama asked. “You... you died last Mother’s day, exactly one year ago,” Daddy replied “and now you are here, eating breakfast with us.” “I’m not supposed to be here,” Mama said, dropping her voice to a whisper. “but I had to visit. I have to tell you to move on! I am happy, and I am always watching you two. Stop setting the table for me when I am not here! You are the ones who told me I am dead, yes?” “Yeah...” Daddy and I said at the same time. Then we looked at each other, smiled, and decided to pretend like this was any other Mother’s day and not my Mama’s death anniversary. So we talked and laughed and talked some more. Once all our plates were cleared, Mama said “I must go now, but I have one last thing to say. I regret not living life to it’s fullest and trying everything I wanted to try. My husband, be a good father, and uphold all the rules we created for our daughter so long ago. My daughter, listen to your father and remember to always make new friends and try new things. My family, remember that I love and protect you, from the time I first met you until you come to join me, I will love and protect you. Now, promise me this: Never stop hoping, laughing, living, and loving. Rejoice that I am home and happy. Live life as if you will die tomorrow, but dream as if you will live forever. Now, my beloveds, I really have to go now. Please, move past me and find new joys in life. I could never be happy in Heaven if you are sad on Earth! I love you.” And with that, Mama stood and walked out the front door. We watched her go. We stared at each other. We stared at Mama’s empty plate. Even Nola sniffed and looked around. From then on, Daddy and I visited Mama’s grave every Christmas and Easter and Mother’s Day and every other holiday we celebrated with her. But on everyday in between, we lived life like we would die tomorrow and we dreamed like we would live forever. Daddy took up painting houses in the day and reciting poetry every Friday. I went to a all girls school every week day and painted murals with Daddy on the weekends. We were happy, because we knew Mama was with us.
November 14, 2013