Crying through Les Mis makes sense, I guess: dying mother with cancer haircut sings farewell to her daughter, right, and maybe I even went into it knowing I would cry and that a dark movie theater on a Sunday night is a perfectly fine place to do so, and that no one can see you, anyway.
But last week I was making this extremely excellent dinner, very summery, with potatoes and peppers and fresh corn cut off the cob. That’s what’s in season now. Heating the oil, stirring the vegetables, adding salt: all good. Getting out the serving spoon and dishing it up: tears, immediately. Because the dinner had corn in it, you see, and my mom loves corn.
She grew up on a farm and she used to say that in the summers when she was a kid you weren’t supposed to go out back to pick it off the stalks until the water for it was boiling on the stove. Something else about ‘knee high by the fourth of July,’ some farming thing. I can see her so clearly, sitting at the table at one of the houses we stayed at in the summers on Long Island, lifting it up out of the steaming pot, piling up the cobs on her plate as we ate outside on a deck. “You’re not supposed to go out back and pick it until you have the water boiling on the stove!”
It’s been ten weeks since she left us, and several more since she could talk to us very well, about vegetables or summertime or anything else. It’s been so long since I’ve had a real conversation with her, almost exactly a year, because almost exactly a year ago she was still going to school and still going to Michigan to see my grandmother and still walking on the beach at home on the island. Almost exactly a year ago we would have still been skyping every weekend and I would have been telling her how the video was coming along or about my Christmas beach holiday or about what was going on with my friends or with work or my flat or whatever. Almost a year ago I didn’t know I was going to get a text in two weeks telling me to call home immediately. This time last year I still had two more weeks where I could just tell her about my new jeans or the new book I was reading and not wonder if she understood or if she was confused, I could just tell her what was happening with me and find out what was happening with her. I haven’t ever gone ten weeks without speaking to my mom, never in my life.
I want to tell her about the washi-tape frames I put up around my pictures on the wall in my lounge. I want to tell her about the new job I start tomorrow. I want to tell her what lovely weather we’ve been having. I want to tell her my plans for my birthday party. I want to tell her about the books I got at the library today. I want to tell her that the band is performing at a festival in a couple of months. I want to tell her about the holiday I’m taking with friends next week. I want to tell her about how comfortable my bed is. I want to tell her about my new haircut. I want to tell her I love her and then I want to say casually, as if talking to one’s mother is no big deal at all, as if it’s something you can do whenever you want: “Okay, talk to you soon!”
I want to tell her about my dinner last night. I want to hear her tell me about the right time to go out back and pick the corn.