Every July when the ninth crept close my mother would say, “I was born in July that’s why I’m a firecracker.”
Maybe she still is. I don’t know. I haven’t seen my mother for over two decades though she is alive.
Sometimes in the early days of July, the days leading up to her birthday, I am wordless.
How do you define what is lost to you when you never really had it to begin with? I have absence, ache, an idea of what we should have had. But really…it’s just an idea that never happened, untenable as a shadow traveling along a cracked plaster wall.
I think of simple things. I remember my mother teaching me how to measure dry ingredients; how to understand and interpret a recipe.
We can’t find each other and likely never will. But I think of her on Mother’s Day. I think of her in July when firecrackers are about to get set off.
I think of my mother in summer when the sun heats my thin skin. I get red at first but never burn. I imagine that’s because we’re partly red (mom said we’re half Cherokee) though my actual blood mix is a recipe I don’t know. Like the measurements in many of mom’s sacred recipes…fiction and truth got mixed.
Mom, I wish so many wishes when I think of you: candles stuck sloppily into cake. They burn, drip, cast shadows on uneven walls. Your silhouette flickers quickly. Then you’re out.
Mom. Bees visit the pink cosmos in my urban, container garden. I don’t have your magical green thumb but I do allright.
I cook. I write about it. I take photos that are occasionally decent. And I think of you when I cook something awesome. I give recipes freely but I think it’s charming and hilarious that you gave out slightly effed-up recipes. You never wanted anyone to do it as well as you did.
Meet me here in flour, butter, salt.
I am always, in some odd way, yours. No-one can take that from us. Not even you.
Firecracker…happy birthday. I send you my heart with no return address. I hope you feel it. I hope you feel love.