The beach will always remind me of my Mother. She was a mermaid who loved the crash of the waves along the ocean shore. The night before she died we stayed up quite late. She always loved late nights with her boys. But by evening’s end it was clear that a long, peaceful rest was long overdue.
I tucked her in on the living room couch, nestled cozily beneath a beautiful white blanket her grandmother had knitted for her some forty years ago. I pulled a chair up beside her and held her hand and we closed our eyes together and suddenly we were in Havana.
We had been visiting Havana regularly since the first diagnosis. After they found the tumor it became difficult for Mom to sleep. Talking about the dreams we were going to have became a way to wind down at the end of the day. Often, we dreamed of going to Havana.
I was standing on the wooden boardwalk that lines a particularly lively strip of beach in Havana. It was night and I was facing the waves and the full moon. Music was floating out from the cafes and nightclubs behind me. I saw my Mother, 20 years old, laughing wildly with her best friend, Jan. They looked beautiful and lively and handsome young men surrounded them. I was wearing a white Naval uniform and I walked up to them and we talked and drank. The music was fast and we danced like old friends at a last hurrah. From the dance floor I looked back out at the beach and the moon.
I saw my mother, 14 years old, standing barefoot in the sand. I was standing beside her. She closed her eyes and took a deep, fresh breath as the water washed over her toes. She was bathed in blue moonlight.
I looked up at the moon and it seemed to fill the whole sky. It was my Mother’s face and I was a baby in her arms. I looked up at her with my tiny eyes and I knew that she loved me.
And then we were on the beach again but she was older and weaker and in pain. I held her against my chest and rocked her back and forth in rhythm with the crashing of the waves.
And then we are sitting beside one another. She is 5 years old and I am 5 years old. She is hitting herself and crying. She is upset that her body isn’t bigger and stronger. I tell her that she will be stronger when she doesn’t need her body anymore. She stops crying and looks up at me and smiles. We look up at the night sky and there is a brilliant constellation above us in the shape of a Goddess holding a sword standing guard over the Universe.
In the living room my mother squeezes my hand and I awake. I call for my brother Jon, and we sit with her as she passes, peacefully in her home.
Miss you, Mom.