The veil opens in places like The Mommy Mile. It is not a mile in measurement, but of memory. The path is not secret or hidden, and often I am sharing this stretch of trail with a passing bicycle or an amateur fisherman.
As soon as the weather is remotely tolerable in Maine, I start to walk outside. It’s the time I can feel most at peace and connected to myself.
As paths in the woods often do, the straight stretch is preceded and followed by bends leading in different directions. Approaching the straight section is a damp and shady walk of maybe 100 yards. The hill on the right drowns out sound from the outside world. The embankment to the left yields a drop steep enough that I am always ensured solitude.
Coming around the first turn, I reach the straight. A hearty swath cut in the middle of robust pine and oak trees. The breeze waits here, and carries with it a part of my Mother.
My arms are heavy, but I hold them out and I find myself saying in an audible fashion, “Hi, My Mommy!” The mile has begun. I breathe and will myself to be present in this moment. Breath to breath. Inhale. Exhale. Each time I am filled with her peace, her being. This is not a passive feeling, but an active feeling. Her BEING. For these 421 steps, she and I are part of the same air.
The second bend approaches to the left. I am on step 410. The end of the mile is approaching. I will not turn around, linger, or go back and I will not pause. A measurement of memory must be walked as it happened, as it’s remembered, and without a moment of human covetousness.
My Mother did not pause when she exhaled for the last time. My Father, Sister, and I exhaled with her. And there, on the breeze of our deflating lungs, she took a part of us with her. A living part of the 3 of us slipped under the doorway.
That part of us is still there with her, across the veil that lifts and allows the breeze to cross Mommy Mile.
It’s almost like the veil that opens, in the twilight of my drifting to sleep, when I am not so much inside myself as I am drifting to somewhere else. She’s there, too. I feel our breath, that little piece that belongs to both sides. Her scent that slips back under the doorway when I inhale, and does not so much surprise me as soothe me.
I continue to drift into sleep, as gently as she slipped away when she carried us with her…as if we were dry leaves straying from an upturned basket. And here, we will flutter through life, in and around each other, until God’s hand places us eye to eye on The Mommy Mile.