“I’m gonna rent myself a house in the shade of the freeway…” Jackson Browne’s lyrics caused the familiar, yet seldom these days, tears to form aqueducts along the subtle curve of my lower eye, eventually spilling over upon my flushed cheeks. This moment served as a harsh reminder of all that I’ll never be able to do for my dear mama, namely, buy her that house in the shade of the Pacific Coast Highway or along North Carolina’s seashore. By the time my mother was finally convinced by my sincere persuasion to move west, she had fallen sick and by the time we learned that it was terminal cancer, I was moving east and she was bed-ridden.
En route to El Matador State beach in Northern Malibu on a stunningly gorgeous Mother’s Day morning, I played Jackson Browne’s “The Pretender” on repeat. This was similar to the day’s events almost three years ago as I made my way to the rocky hidden gem that is El Matador to spread her ashes along the dramatic coastline. The stark difference, though, was that this occasion was conducted solo and one of a more thankfully celebratory mood.
Upon my early arrival, I took in the stretch of striking beach atop the steep cliffs, overlooking the Pacific waters, noticing that El Matador isn’t such the “hidden gem” it once was what with the scores of families and sun worshippers already lining the shore. I blame that con on the travel magazine I saw it featured in a couple of years ago. And though a desired destination beach now, I will never stop going there on these special occasions, these exclusive moments where I get to revel in the natural beauty of it all along with my mama’s spirit.
I lovingly reminisced about the moment my mother first witnessed that glorious stretch I speak of as we trekked our way down to sea level and how we spent a couple of hours walking in the sand, searching for sea glass and exploring the small caves inside the giant boulders that had found their resting spot upon the beige sands. Windblown and made tired by the excess amounts of vitamin D we had taken in that day, we sat peacefully upon a rock, delighting in the visuals before us – the endlessly crashing waves, seagulls in search of their next meal and the winding expanse of oceanfront to the south. A little over a year later, I found myself back at El Matador, solemnly spreading her remains along the shallow waves, in the sand and into the salty, ocean air.
On this particular Mother’s Day, I find myself wishing she were here to witness the woman I have become. I believe I am the best version I have ever been of myself and I would have wanted to share this with her. I think I would make her proud, as so much of this woman, this human being, I’ve become is owed to her guidance, her unwavering strength and her poignant wisdom. She deserved to know this me as much as I always wanted her to know the kind of love that fills in the missing colors in her paint-by-number dreams as Jackson Browne so affectingly describes in the final verse of “The Pretender.”
My heart sometimes literally aches at the thought of her permanent, physical absence and the tears I had begun to shed continued due to the fact that this joy, this beauty and this love that fill my heart and soul cannot be shared with the most important person in my life. In the past, I would often find myself saying that the meaning of life is love but I now believe that past sentiment to have been about 85% words whereas now, I live a life full of meaning, of love, at 110% and it’s incredibly fulfilling. I endeavor to imagine that she knows a great bliss that I do not, that wherever she may be, exists a sort of reverie unlike the kind I am presently experiencing and that one day, we will share in that.
My gratitude was in overdrive yesterday as text messages and phone calls poured in from some of the dearest people in my life:
“Happy Mother’s Day to your Ma…”
“I will place the flowers I bought out so your Mom can enjoy them on the balcony.”
“Hi Lindsay. Thinking of you and your mom.”
“You’re in my heart today sweet sister! Always, just a little extra today ;) She is so proud of you xoxo. Me, too.”
All of the above beautiful sentiments were synonymously as unique and as sincere as the loving, wonderful people that sent them and that I am proud to have surrounded myself with. Stating that I am truly blessed simply doesn’t do this immense gratitude justice any longer but I know you all know that I am genuine.
I willingly spent the greater portion of my three and a half hours on the shores of El Matador beach observing the numerous, seemingly happy families – the mothers running toward the waves, carefree, with their little ones in tow, the little boy receiving a kite flying lesson from his eager Mother and the Father gleefully sliding down a small sand dune with his two young sons. All of these sights delivered more joy than the pure sadness or resentment that they used to. While I, of course, wish that I could share a simple moment as such with my mother again, especially on days like Mother’s Day, I’ll be grateful for the times that I did share with her. It was truly soul stirring and instilled within me a dream that perhaps, one day, I’ll be that mother showing my son how to fly a kite or picnicking with my little family, relishing in the second Sunday of May that is Mother’s Day.
Dear Mama, I wish I could expel all of the joy my heart is bursting with upon your deserving ears. As I sit at the edge of land, watching the Pacific Ocean live in its vibrant beauty, crashing toward the shore, beckoning, calling vigorously to my soul, it’s reminiscent of the simplistic happiness I experienced when I would come to Kansas City, to our home and share a home cooked meal with you. Happy Mother’s Day to you today, everyday, forever and always.