Near & Far

One of my favorite Sesame Street skits was Grover/Frank Oz's "Near & Far" -- where he demonstrated the meanings of near and far.  You were either one or the other.  There was measurable difference between the two things.  By the end of the skit, Grover is exasperated from having to repeat himself so many times.  I don't know why, but I just thought it was so silly.

It wasn't until I got older that I realized that some things can be both near AND far -- just like the title, and not near OR far.  Sometimes perspective collaborates with our minds to play tricks on us.

This past Saturday marked 20 years since my mother passed away on September 27, 1994 (see "I'm a sensitive soul, though I seem thick skinned"). I spent the week leading up to it in NYC with dad. (I also got to see some friends while I was there too.)  So many times, I am struck by how vivid and tangible that period in my life feels (I carry it with me everywhere I go), and at other times, it seems so distant (and I'm able to set aside the burden of some of those memories).

That morning, my dad went to church, then we went to my mom's grave.  My dad placed red roses in the vase; I cleaned up her headstone and put a few roses and a stone on top.  I had asked dad if we could then go to Robert Moses Beach (a place where I felt especially connected to mom) so I could honor the day in my own way. 

It wasn't until I was texting with my brother driving to the beach from the cemetery that I started getting emotional.  I thought about how my niece and nephew would never get to know my mom, or that mom would never get to know her grandchildren.  (People often say to me "mom is looking down on them from heaven" -- but that's not what I believe at all.  I find zero comfort in that.)  I thought about what dating would have been like with mom around (I have a sneaking suspicion that mom would have flirted with my suitors).  I thought about not having mom there with me if I ever gave birth (She may have just given the doctor the heave-ho so she could be the first to hold her grandchild).  Then I realized how I'm sad about things thing may or may not come to pass.  Then I wondered if I've been subconsciously avoiding or sabotaging myself because I fear losing those things as well.

Dad didn't follow my advice in picking the easternmost beach.  He kept driving further west.  He then parked the car and we walked for a while along the beach.  We had hoped that since it was the end of September that it would have been empty, but it was an unseasonably warm day and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  Eventually we found a place where people weren't swimming as much (right near the traditionally clothing-optional area), and I committed to the ocean the remainder of the dozen light pink, light purple, and white roses.

Later, dad and I agreed that maybe it wasn't the best thought out plan, as the ocean decided to take some and brought the others back to the shore.  Though it may seem inappropriate on such a solemn occasion, I couldn't help but laugh.  I think mom would have thought it was funny as well.

Two women down the shore picked up the roses and I let them know what I was trying to do.  They understood (and one of them had also recently commemorated 20 years since her own mother passed) and gave me hugs.  One of them said, "Maybe this is just a reminder to let life come back to you."



This is really weird. My dad also passed away on September 27th (2003). I think it gets easier with the passage of time, but it never really goes away. You always get little painful reminders, like figuring out who will walk you down the aisle or remembering the anniversary of their death.

I'm glad your dad was able to be there with you this year to celebrate your mother's memory.

I also found the heaven/"in-a-better-place" comments not the least bit comforting. The best sentiment I remember came from our only atheist family friends. It was something like: "This is the part where someone religious might say "we're praying for you", but you are in our thoughts and hearts and we're here for you."


Aw.. Your post is very emotional. Near and far indeed.


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