I titled this post this morning, before Nat, Anna, and Ruby arrived.  I didn’t know then, what I know now. 

When Nat and Owen were growing up, they sometimes asked me what would happen to them if I died first.  I always told them that if something happened to me, I would find a way to communicate with them.  I didn’t know how, but I would find a way.  Magical thinking?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Sometimes we say things to our children, to others, without knowing the impact.  We guard ourselves, and hope we’re saying those things they need to hear, those things that will help them through tough times.  Then, everything changes, and we are the ones who hope we hear things that may take on a magical tone – because we need to hear them.

I spent today just hanging out with my family, as I wanted, and I’m grateful.  As simple as our plans were, we had one of those days that came crashing in with too many unspoken objectives and too little time.  Packing, cleaning, laundry, reminiscing, cooking.  We got through it, and I was the fortunate mother who realized, yet again, that motherhood is forever. 

Significant moments of our day together:

They brought me flowers.

Ruby hugged me and said, “I’m going to treat mothers very nice today.”  (She’s five.)  She wished each and every one of us a Happy Mother’s Day, individually.  Didn’t matter that only two of us were mothers.

I was packing up some office supplies and found a stack of greeting cards.  I don’t throw them out, I keep them.  The last card in the stack was a Mother’s Day card.  It was from Owen, from last year.  This is what it says:

Happy Mother’s Day

Guardian angels

will sing you a song

To make your heart happy

and light all day long.

Wishing you the special Joy

that only God’s love brings.

Underneath the card’s preprinted message, Owen wrote:

“Hello, hope your mother’s day was a happy one, this card is weird, the Union and Howard’s Station was fun.  Love Owen”

Owen rarely wrote anything other than his name on greeting cards.

Nat asked me last week what we did for Mother’s Day last year.  I couldn’t remember.  When I read Owen’s card, I remembered everything.  Dave, Owen, and I drove to Occidental to meet Nat, Anna, and Ruby for breakfast.  The wait was long for our table at Howard’s Station, so we put our name on the list and walked the couple of blocks to The Union Hotel, where we got coffee and milled around, then walked back.  Our table still wasn’t ready, so we sat at a picnic table by the parking lot, drinking our coffee drinks and talking.  When our table was ready, we went into the restaurant, and spent our morning together.  All of us, just hanging out. 

Last Monday, I received two CDs of Owen photos from Carla, his former girlfriend.  She wrote in her note, that there was a short video clip of him.  I waited until today to look at the photos and the video.  I needed my family with me.  None of us have any video clips of Owen, and I didn’t think I could handle watching it, without them.  We watched, and it was both okay and torture.  Seeing his face looking out at the lens, and his hand moving across the screen, was unlike anything I could have imagined.  His hands are unforgettable.  Yet, seeing his long fingers move, sent me to a place I rarely visit, except in dreams.  15 seconds, that’s all.  15 seconds of motion, long ago now.  God, he was beautiful.  Nat and I cried, sitting on the couch, remembering, and missing him more than anyone can know.  15 seconds, and a lifetime.

At dinner tonight, Ruby told Nat to tell me this:  “Nowen said to tell Linda I love you very much.”  He did.

After I talked with them, I went to the porch, and watched the sunset.  The wind was blowing.  I said to the sunset and the wind, “Thanks, Owen, for sending the message.  I love you, too, Owie.  Oh-Wind, I hear you.”  I cried mother-tears, and waited for the calm that did not come. 

Nat came out, and I asked him about what Ruby said.  He thinks I’m a little woo-woo, but he couldn’t deny the serendipity of the day.  After a few minutes of talking, I said, “Nowen.  No Owen.  N’Owen.  I didn’t hear it that way at first.”  He said, “Wow, you’re slow now.”  I laughed and we talked about how hard it is to get through our days.  He said, “And, the wind’s blowing.”  Last year, in the days after Owen was discovered in The River, the wind kicked up to unbelievable speeds and blew his chair off our porch.  None of us has ever forgotten the power of the wind in those days, nor the power of Owen’s presence – in his absence.

Several people called me today, to see how I was doing, and to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day.  It was hard for them to say those words, even knowing I’m still a mother.  I knew they were struggling…and I know how much they love me.  Thanks, guys.  I love you, too.

This post comes at the end of a long, quiet period of reflection, and I have two messages and a song to share.  Two messages from Lea Kelley:

Mother’s Day Proclamation

Thank you for the Mother of My Invention

When I drove out of Nat’s and Anna’s driveway last night, tonight’s song is the one I first heard on the radio.  Owen wasn’t a fan of The Police, but indulged me when I listened to them.  I think he liked them more than he let on.  Why else would he have watched the Sting concert with me, late one evening in San Diego?  Maybe, just to hang out with me.  We did a lot of that.

What do I know now?  Nothing.  And, everything.

And, tonight’s song:  Message in a Bottle, The Police (the last time I saw Owen was on May 28, 2007 – almost a year ago – “A year has passed since I wrote my note, I should have known this right from the start, Only hope can keep me together, Love can mend your life but love can break your heart…I’ll send an SOS to the world…I hope that someone gets my message in a bottle…”


~ by Linda on May 11, 2008.

7 Responses to “Messages”

  1. Wow. Amazing post. Amazing messages that just can’t be ignored.

    I found a ten second clip of my dad years after he passed. It was so strange. A few months ago I was converting some home videos to DVD and found a really long video of Candace just a day after she was born. All I could think was, “I know how it ends,” and it was so difficult to watch.

    Thanks for sharing, Linda, my thoughts are with you and your family.

  2. “I know how it ends.” Yep, you can’t look at pictures, or watch videos of them, without thinking just that. Grabs me by the throat, shakes me out of my skin, and leaves me wrung dry. No, I’ll never be wrung dry, as the tears will surely come, with each new memory. I know you know, Kitty.

    Happy Mother’s Day. It’s just before midnight here. I hope you and your mother were able to acknowledge your amazing presence in the world of motherhood today. We give, we receive, and we let go. This is our mission, though we would never choose the letting-go part. We simply do, when life serves this sentence.

    Motherhood never dies. We’re all mothers on this bus.


  3. I know what you mean about the difficulty of watching the video. I have hours of tape recordings of my grandma when I interviewed her for the book. I think that is one reason I haven’t been writing. It’s too hard to listen. Still…there’s also something so wonderful about having access to them in this way….

    Happy Mother’s Day, Linda.

  4. wow – thank you for sharing your journey… and for visiting my site as well. there is a sense of comfort reading through other people’s journey. thanks for the kind and gracious words… they mean a lot coming from you. thanks.

  5. Isn’t it just like Owen to get a message through on this special day? And then to see him on video (even for the eternity of 15 seconds)–what a gift. He was beautiful for sure.
    I remember after my father’s funeral, we all went out eat. Then we went back to my mom’s house, and someone put on some family videos. And I thought, “Oh no…I can’t take this. It’s way too soon.” And yet when I heard his voice, and saw him, it was as strangely comforting, as it was painful.
    Thinking of you, and praying for you, my friend. Lonnette

  6. Exactly. Video has a special quality which photographs can’t approach. There is movement. There is life.

    This song was #1 in England in my first term at university. Even now I can still hear it playing in my mind as I walk out of the beer cellar (or was it into the beer cellar?).

    I love the storyline in the song. One message goes out, and a million are returned. So may it be for you, Linda.

  7. Linda,

    I love the fact that you found last years Mother’s Day card from Owen and read it at exactly the right time. I think it was meant to be, not by accident.

    I have a birthday card from my dear friend who died – it was the last one she ever gave me. She was desperately terminally ill at the time and died a matter of weeks later. In her card she wrote: For this and ALL your birthdays (and then private words). So now I put up her “universal” card every year on my birthday – and always will. It is a wonderful reminder that friendship is forever and death shall have no dominion.

    It may be that you could do the same with Owen’s card. Hugs.

    PS: I cried when I read this post – I really do understand.

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