…make you stop in your tracks. Tell your eyes not to cry. Tell your lips not to quiver like they do when a good cry is coming in. Tell your voice not to shake because you know you won’t be able to talk normally for a little while.
That just happened to me. Sitting at my hairstylist’s while my color soaked in. As I looked up and saw a lady come in who could have been my mother’s twin. Her height, her face, her hairstyle, her clothes, the way she walked. I tried not to stare…to quickly look away, because I knew I couldn’t watch this lady without that longing in my heart jumping into my throat.
It still happens. After almost ten years. And it probably will happen again.
Shortly after my mom passed away, my daughter Ashley and I were shopping in one of the department stores where we used to take my mother all the time. My mom had had a shopping routine, and when she’d get tired she’d sit down in the shoe department and wait for us. She’d hold our bags and quietly watch the shoppers go by. Usually someone she knew came over and talked to her for a while; that’s one of the beautiful things about living in a small town.
That particular day Ashley and I both saw the woman at the same time. She looked so much like my mother…sitting in that shoe department with a bunch of shopping bags, just quietly waiting. How I wanted so badly to rush over to her and hug her, because she so reminded me of my own mother. That’s when we saw the woman’s grown daughter, and obviously the woman’s granddaughter, coming over to meet her. The little girl’s face lit up as she ran to her grandmother to show her what she’d bought. And the smile on her grandmother’s face was priceless, and she wanted to know all about everything that little girl had found.
The look on my own face as I watched them was most likely a mixture of sadness, envy, and nostalgia for what we’d lost. And probably hadn’t fully appreciated until this moment, when we realized such moments wouldn’t ever happen to us again. And Ashley…she turned away and quickly walked off, knowing she was ready to cry.
We never seem to truly appreciate what we have until it’s gone. Forever gone. As much as I loved my mother, enjoyed being with her and doing things with her, I still regret all the times I missed out on. And didn’t even know it at the time.
When I left my hair appointment that same lady was standing outside the salon with her hair stylist, waiting for her ride. I stopped to speak to her, and with an almost cracking voice, told her how very much she looked like my mom who’d left us ten years ago. Her China blue eyes (like my mom’s) looked at me, thanked me for the compliment, and very unlike my mother, proudly told me she was going to be 102 this year!! And that she hoped to see me there again, because she had her hair done every week! Just like my mother used to.
I’m going to be sure to make my next hair appointment for a Saturday at the same time I had today. Just so I can see this lady again. This time I’ll ask her name. She deserves to be more than a nameless memory.
March 5, 2016