Unzip the lock. A few pounds worth of flour-like grey weighing down my left palm while digging in with a plastic hummus container.
This morning is magic. Dampened stonewalls and trees dressed by a perfect love affair between algae and fungus. Engorged moss like a breastfeeding mother away from her infant too long. Fern beds cling to summer’s green as mist collects and hovers.
You were my fiddlehead. You were my empathy, laughter, and wanting to snuggle. I’d pack you in the car, take you to the office or to the wine and spirits festival in Vermont. You came to the shelter where children and women fawn over your sitting center of attention. When it’s time to leave, you look to me with pleading root beer candy-cracking eyes. I’d go stern. You’d go compliant.
I smile and shrug as I’ve spilt almost 4 ounces of you at the center of this muddying trail. Proceeding up, up, and up. Leaving your DNA mostly where you’d take off wandering in pleasure. I’m remembering these rocks with your tugging pull to run up and down them, even though it means you will be bed-ridden for the next 48 hours.
I feel myself moving toward summit. Flashing back to times we’ve come here. The morning with my sister and a thermos filled with dark roast. We packed her homemade blueberry scones in saran wrap and foil. It was dark when we started but made it to the top in a cold inhale tugging plastic, looking out over sunrise and autumn colors. You were right there beside us. Ready to hike up another.
I’d nuzzle my nose into your hips and belly. I’d kiss right between your eyes and fold between my fingers your bat-winged ears (which always seemed cold). I’d tuck the blanket around your head like a lion’s mane and listen as you deep breathe into carelessness.
Hope you don’t mind the temperature up here – a steady 13 degrees colder than Ohio (this is based purely on science, mind you). I’m assuming you don’t care. I’m assuming you stopped caring when you noted your life was ending. How easily and content. How limit-accepting. So simple. Not digging up and recycling anxiously as I do.
This is the part of the trail where a perfect shining stone makes a perfect clear pathway. It feels like a place we might stop and linger. Here, let me pour you some more.
You look so white against the greenery. I’m doing my best to not get you on my boots or obnoxiously pink athletic wear. I’m hoping when I rub the top of my lip or pull the misted hair from my mouth, I didn’t just smear your ashes into my pores. But even if I did. Who cares? Being your mother was messy. Taking care of you was messy. You witnessed all of the messy. Shame dissipates when you live with this level of intimate proximity. There is nothing to be embarrassed by. What is just is.
I’m pouring the last several ounces of you into this plastic lid. Making sure to shake the Ziploc bag on the ground around me. I’ll be intentional here. I’m feeling good about this. This feels right. I feel confident and assure of myself. Mothering is a place I don’t ask questions. I don’t use passive language or tentativeness. I worry at times, but with confidence. Because when it comes to my baby blue, I know what’s best for you.