I just drove my mom to the airport. We went to the beach for spring break. There, we traded in towels for Kleenex. I had the flu. She had the flu. My baby got the flu. It was miserable. But before we got sick, we had one morning adventure in a golf cart to a bustling bakery and another on the beach collecting treasures from the Gulf.
When I pulled up to the curb at the airport, I hopped out of the car, grabbed her tan bag from the back and briskly walked to the counter, careful not to take too long as to avoid a scolding by security. “No Stopping!” “Keep Moving!” I gave her a hug and kiss goodbye, smelling that sweet and familiar scent of Oil of Olay on her soft cheeks, when the inevitable trickling of tears, warm and stubborn, wet mine.
I got back in the car. But the security man, a Danny Glover look-alike with a tender grin, stopped me. I got a little scared when I saw him coming, fearing that I was about to get a talking to. But instead…
He said: “You can go, it’s o.k. I’ll watch the car.”
Me: Still the tears. “But, I have to say goodbye sometime.”
Me: Not really answering his question. “It’s just hard, it’s my mom.”
Him: “You never have to say goodbye to your mom. Where is she?”
Me: Feeling literal. “In New Jersey.”
Him: An enthusiastic “NO! Look in the mirror – who do you see?”
Me: I wasn’t catching on. “Me.”
Him: “No, it’s not me, myself and I. You have kids? Who do you see when you look at them?”
Me: Still not catching on, bear with me here, I hadn’t had much sleep in the past week. “My Mom?”
Him: “No, you. And you see your mom when you look in the mirror. Your mom is your past and your kids, the future. Your mom is always with you. There is no need to say goodbye.”
Me: I’m a hot mess at this point and these words, reminiscent of Mustafah talking to Simba in The Lion King, pierce right through my sadness. I feel like at any minute, everyone around me – those walking in through the automatic doors, toting luggage and toddlers as well as all the workers dealing with tickets and bags, are going to start dancing with grass on their heads to the song, Circle of Life. Finally, I come back to this gentle, lovely man, and say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, you are so kind.”
Him: “You don’t need to thank me. G-d puts the right people in our lives at the right time to remind us that we are on the right path.”
He mentions my spirit, blesses me, and moves on.
I too move on, taking my mom with me.