I want to share a story with you. I’m sharing it because I found it to be a balm for these times of national elections and exploding divisions. It’s one of those stories when everything came together, when you think, “OK, maybe there is some one–or someones–somewhere who has a helluva lot better handle on things than all of us do down here.
It goes like this: The other day I got to see Mom in her apartment in assisted living. It was the first time since March 10 that we got to be in the same room with each other. Seeing Mom without a piece of glass separating us, hugging her, was everything you’d think it would be. But this isn’t a story about seeing my mom after seven months apart. It’s not a story about time at all.
It’s a story about the eternal power of a mother’s tender kiss. In particular, the kiss that Mom very gently placed on the lower part of my right cheek when our visit was over. It wasn’t an easy kiss for her to give. She had to get up on her “tippy-toes” as she says and she had to push aside the massive (and hot, lord are those things hot) plastic shield that covered my whole face. But she did it.
Because she’s my mom. And I’m her son.
As she did, my whole body started to tremble.
“Oh Mom,” I said, “that’s what I’ve needed. All these months. That’s what I’ve needed.”
And it was what I’ve needed. For in that moment, I felt every kiss my Mom has given me. When I’ve fallen down, when I’ve gotten back up. When I’ve made her proud and when I’ve disappointed her, but she’s always told me that she still loves me because she’s my mom.
Mom’s kiss somehow released all the stress and pain and fear and anger and utter loneliness that I, like so many of you, have felt these past seven months. It also calmed the anxiety, again I like so many of you, have felt as the national election draws closer and closer like a storm that is of uncertain danger. And somehow, in that instant, I felt calmer. I felt more certain that I’ll get through this, that all of us will get through this.
Until the day comes when we don’t, which is OK because that day always comes for all of us.
When I got back in the car after telling Mom yet another good-bye, giving her one more hug and gratefully receiving one more kiss, I knew what I had to do: Put on The Beatles Let It Be.
I listened to it three times on the short drive back home, taking deep solace and drawing much needed nourishment from Mom’s kiss and Paul’s “Mother Mary.” Because “in our hour of darkness” both of them “are standing right in front of me.”
Standing right in front of you.
That is the eternal truth of life. Moments in time come and go, be they pandemics, presidencies or even entire years. But when any night is cloudy, always there is a light…and there are mothers.
Whispering words of wisdom.
Let it be, America, let it be.
And may it be so.
Please take good care of yourselves.
The Mom Chronicles is a blog series about a middle-aged son learning to care for his elderly mother.