I have no image of myself as an old woman. I have guesses. My conjecture is based on everything I knew of my mother and little else. I am like one of those forensic artists who artificially ages suspects or victims. I imagine how my mom would be and how I hope to be at any age greater than 53. That’s when everything stopped. When the sun set.
Today was about family. Extended family. I took the boys to visit my mother’s best friend from her school days. I am trying to find a balance between relaxation and fun for the kids and visits with those who are dear to me here. Christina means a lot. When I last saw her, at my father’s 85th birthday party, I was so moved I remember fighting tears. Ok I had just lost a baby and something about her eyes…it was as if my mom stood there before me. She does find her conduits, her vehicles. But Christina was unexpected in that moment and I had to work hard to keep it together. She was tried and true Team Eva. And today was no different. She, like me, sought out opportunities to talk about my mom. Such a rarified quality. She, like me, knew that someone so great had to be mentioned. She bubbles up and out of you. You have to tell the story. And she did. I want the kids to see that expression people who really knew my mom have when they talk about her. It may start as sadness but it always ends with laughter. She just made you smile. It was her superpower.
Then Christina did something so cool, so bad ass that I just knew my mom was there with us, going ‘hell yeah!’ She, all 74 years of her, exactly the age my mom would have been, asked the boys if they wanted to swim. By swim she of course meant go bike to the harbor in Skanör, the southern most point in Sweden, and jump in the ocean. My boys ( well, at least Colt) said yes. She disappeared.
Today was maybe 62 degrees. It was very windy, and rained on and off like a lot of the days here. You don’t come to Sweden for the weather. You come for shit like this. The minute the sun peeks out you race to the beach. Carpe diem. Don’t wait. Don’t ever wait or you will miss it.
She reemerged in her bikini top and said, ‘I’ll bike you follow.” And so I did.
Tears welled in my eyes.
She would have done the exact same thing.
We dutifully followed and after 15 min parked our car. Colt took the lead and had a heart to heart with one of the very few who knows, deep in her cells, who Eva was and what she stood for. How rare she was.
It was so simple and obvious to her. Of course she would lead the way. Show my children where to go and what to do. The only one brave enough to jump in was Colt. The surf was wild and the temperature frigid but in she went, and my eldest followed. He knew there was some magic in that water for those who dared. I wasn’t among them today. Just Colt and Christina. To say I was proud is an understatement of the highest order.
I can’t give them their grandmother. But I can let them hear the whispers of who she was. Let them feel the cold salt water and wind on their cheeks as they discover what is real and important. Be present. Live today. Create those memories that your bones remember forever.
Today I saw a ghost. She was beautiful and brave.