gratitude grief

road trip, email and cookie dough

Max and I spent a few days a few weeks ago at Common Place Farm. I love what my friends have done to support the healing energy of this very special place. They invited me to consider making a garden for my mom, Karen’s Garden. So a “to go” envelope of her ashes came along for the ride. It was just me and Max. I have never driven that far alone so wondered how I would do, but Maxie was a wonderful navigator and personal DJ. It was a peaceful trip. The beauty of the prairie plains and wide sky always soothes me. Considering we were leaving 100 plus heat watching the temp drop as we drove north was another incentive to keep the rubber on the road.

Just outside of Minneapolis, we stopped at Culvers for a late lunch. As we sat in the very clean and sanitized world of “not so fast food”, Max and I chatted about the drive so far. He never once asked “Are we there yet?”

My phone beeped and I looked down to see the message. I had received an email from my mom. Yes, my mom, kckaren47@…. My first thought was, “What is mom sending me?” I had completely forgotten that she was not sitting at home, checking emails and forwarding jokes, inspiring messages or political rages. For a brief millisecond I had forgotten she had died. And then reality rushed in, I caught my breath. I looked more closely and could see that her email had been “hacked” and it was some kind of spam automatically sending links.  So my rational self found a reason for the message, but the other part of me took it as a sign. I did not say one word to Max during all of this. He was just eating his vanilla ice cream and cookie dough. He looked up and asked,

“Mom, will you tell me again about the story of you and Nani and the cookie dough?”

His question confirmed my sign and I told him again the story of his mother misreading her ticket to London and arriving at KCI to find out the flight had left an hour earlier. I was a junior in college and excited about my semester abroad. I was devastated and I knew my dad would be furious.  We headed home with the knowledge I would be able to fly out one day later with no penalty, but I was really dreading the conversation with Dad. Really dreading it.  Mom made chocolate chip cookie dough and we sat at the table as she eventually got me to laugh about the situation. I still had a few hours before I had to face my dad, but until then we shared some cookie dough and settled in for one more night at home. (Dad was actually quite kind about it all once he had some “cave time.” )

Mom’s email and Max’s question both reminded me that  this journey  was a pilgrimage, of sorts, to take time to remember my mom and to mark the farm even more sacred than it already is by dedicating a space to her. As we pulled out of Culver’s and headed north on 35 I quietly said under my breath. “Thanks Mom for letting me know you are with us.”

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