It was April. The air was still cool. Winters here are only so cold and it seemed that was hanging around for a while. April came early that year. With Mom and Dad in Dunnellon, important holidays, were easy to plan. Do they come to the Cedar Keys? Do we go there? Easter was approaching. Mom usually left her pain and her health problems behind when she got out for a while. We asked them to our house. Easter was set.
A couple days before, Dad called and they cancelled. Mom wasn't up to a trip to Cedar Key. We changed plans. We went to Dunnellon early enough for Easter Sunrise Service at the lake a couple miles from the house. Mom was not well and could not walk without help. She hadn't been sleeping much for fear she might not wake up.
The service was nice. It was cool outside. The sun came up, the lake serving as a backdrop, as a platform in an amphitheater. Mom had lost sight in one eye and could barely see with the other. "Here they come," I heard her whisper. And at that moment a loose formation of snowy egrets flew from behind the hill to the east, over our heads, pulling off to the left over the lake... Goosebumps...
A few days later I got the call. I was heading to Crystal River in the predawn darkness, not too far from the turn-off for Dunnellon. Dad, muffling back emotion, "Mom died this morning..."
I had a few moments of grief, then deep panic while driving a one-ton vehicle down the road at 65 miles an hour in the dark. I could hear the EMS people at Dad's in the background, not wanting to leave Dad alone. I got hold of myself enough to tell him I'd be there in just minutes.
Minutes, hours, days passed in succession and in shock. Preparations, calls, you know the rest. Finally, the morning before the funeral, I had time alone. I walked the couple miles to the lake, to the place we celebrated the Sunrise Service, the Resurrection, just a few short days back. To a bench on the pier out into the lake. And I sat there.
I looked out across the water, and past the sand and shrubs and scrub trees to the sky. I looked at nothing. I looked at everything. I thought about childhood, the times we had along the river, the picnics by the spring in the pasture, the times Mom encouraged my art, my studies in science, my curiosities, my growth, my life.
As I again looked over the lake, I saw a couple sandhill cranes down next to the water, and another head barely above the tall grasses. There she was, Mom, looking over us as we ventured near the water. Mom, always there someplace, all my life, watching from somewhere. And then a flight of snowy egrets rose up and flew over. "Here they come..."
Mom was there, right there beside me, as we sat on that bench over the lake a couple miles from home, looking back over my life with me. She was there on that cool April morning, she was there.
How I wish now I had told her more about how much she meant to me as I went along in my life. Yet, I know deep down inside that she already knew. She was there too.
So until the next time we talk, thanks for sharing those few moments on that cool April morning with me.