My memory stinks. I don’t mean it stinks in the way that I walk into rooms and forget why. Although, I do do that quite regularly. When I say my memory stinks what I mean is that I don’t really have many. The Husband, he’ll tell stories of being a kid that are so full of detail, it is as if it just happened last week.
Me? I can’t think of a single thing from my childhood that I can describe in detail at any given time. My memory is more like those quick snapshot transitions on the show Scandal. You know, rapid fire images that may or may not make total sense together no matter how important they are individually.
This sounds terrible but actually, it can be quite lovely. Take this morning for instance. I went to morning Mass at work because it is a feast day and I figure if my office is 10 meters from the church it’s pretty pitiful if I don’t make it in for Mass on a feast day. Today happens to be in honor of the Immaculate Conception. I won’t get into the religion of what that means, except to say that Mass was all about Mary today. The songs, the readings, the whole nine were focused on Jesus’s mom.
Well, wouldn’t you know the first song that was sung caused me to burst right into tears. Yep, full watery eyes right in front of the entire church where I am supposed to maintain some sort of professional demeanor. Awesome.
After my initial surprise and embarrassment, I dove into the feeling and tried to figure out why I was quietly sobbing so early on a Monday morning. That’s when the Scandal snapshots fired. Sure enough I could almost feel myself bundled in a winter coat sitting next to mom on the hard wooden pew in our old church. It’s dark (it always was) but for the light right above the altar and the weird blue haze that comes from sun through endless miles of stained glass. I am snuggled up next to her side, while she sings with strong lungs about the Gentle Woman and Peaceful Dove. It is warm where I’m sitting and I love being there, right next to her, even if it means sitting through Mass for an hour on a day off from school. She looks peaceful. It doesn’t happen often, but it always does in church.
Then I remember more times in that same church, her singing, me leaning in next to her or grabbing her hand to hold, any kind of physical touch I could muster because she allowed it in those pews. I used to think it was because it was our special time together, but it was probably just so I would stay quiet for an hour so she could enjoy Mass in peace.
My mom didn’t get much peace when I was a kid. She had work and five older kids to worry about. Then she came home to me and all my childish wants and needs. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time snuggling or hand-holding because there simply wasn’t any time to spend.
But once a week, and when school was out for feast days, I had unfettered access to her warmth and gentle touch for nearly 60 full minutes. I don’t know for sure, because she’s not here to ask, but I would bet part of the reason she went to Mass so often wasn’t just devotion to God, but an opportunity to sit and be still for an hour. And man, am I glad I got to spend those hours with her.
Today in Mass when I cried over the Mary song, I quickly remembered why and it helped make my hour even more special, because it was if I was sharing it with her.
My memory stinks, but when it finally kicks in, I get all the details I need.
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