I woke up at 4am today with a deep yearning to cry. It’s been this way for weeks now. An ache stretches down my throat, presses against my ribs and curls inside my lungs. This time of morning, the birds are already singing. I recall how you were always awake at this hour, like the birds. Sometimes, you would call and it would make me so mad. Other times, I’d answer gently and we’d talk. Most times, I wasn’t home or I played dead and allowed the phone to ring and ring into silence. I realize now this is the Crying Hour: The hour of lungs, breath and sorrow. I realize you were calling because you were yearning to cry.
I roll onto my stomach, and pull a pillow to my chest. I remember hugging you the way I would when you still remembered I was your child. I fall into a dream about a stream running through my garden. It’s clear and shallow, and there are millions of tiny tadpoles and fish. I am excited the kids will have something new to do. They can spend the day catching fish while I worked the garden. My excitement fades as worry sets in that the kids could drown, but I follow the stream to an adobe spirit wall with an eave built in to protect whichever God or Goddess I choose. I choose instead to nail my herbs there for drying. I examine a plant I have never seen before. Its leaves are cupped as if praying or asking for water; asking to be filled. Empty hands; begging hands.
And then, we are boarding a plane. The children are excited as we rush down long corridors of a light cerulean dawn, passing rooms and spaces with straight rows of seats for waiting. There are people coming and going, and in the excitement, I fail to acknowledge who we were leaving behind. You and Aunt Baby stand beside us crying. The seats in the terminal go from filled to empty. We are the last to board because we can’t say good-bye and I wake up to the sound of my own sobs.
I can still see your softs hands holding the things I’ve kept of yours that you once held close beside you: Your purse filled with crumpled tissues and napkins now serve as reminders of your tender grace.
I oftentimes travel an imagined road home to see you. I open the car door, releasing the children like thistle seeds to the wind as they run into your open garage and through your unlocked door. I follow them in as they shout your name to find you: Lola! Lola!
The tears fall now, Moma. What would you tell me to make me stop crying?
SHHH. Go to sleep now. My love is still here. My love is still strong, like the aching that wakes you.