Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Pope

I'm going to miss the Pope's visit to New York! Yeah, I know I'm not Catholic, nor would I have much of an opportunity to see him, but still, it's fun to be in town when the big-wigs come to visit. Some nuns I was talking to last week were really excited for his address to the UN and said he was going to talk about human rights. I say that is pretty awesome. I hope my friend Leila who works at the UN manages to sneak into that event, or at least can press her nose to her office window and catch a glimpse of the pontiff. Welcome Pope Benedict XVI!

oh, and I'm going to miss this because of an even bigger event (at least in my universe)-- BABY HANSON! She's taking her sweet time, which just goes to show that she is definitely her mother's daughter.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

If but for an afternoon...

"I failed my exam," I would've said, meeting her at the Film Forum with a flushed face this afternoon.

"It was absurd. At one point I wanted to just put my head on my desk and fall asleep to make it go away." I would've continued in that vein about how stressed I was and how I had snapped at Chris about the podcast for really no reason for the ten minutes before the film started, and then, feeling better, would've while settled in to watch "Alexandra", and whispered some comment about how we're the only non-senior citizens at the movies on a Tuesday afternoon. She'd be 52 years old now, and would've probably smiled in relief that she has a few more years before she's in the same boat with all the white-haired folk populating the theater with us.

She would've enjoyed the movie-- it was a sweet slow one about an old Russian grandmother visiting her grandson on the front lines in Chechnya. I remember her being a tender-heart, and we would've both welled up with tears a few times, first when the young Chechen man asks for his freedom and then again during a tender scene with her grandson braiding her hair. During the film, I would've pinched her arm and turned with a look of delight with the Russian words I recognized, mouthing them to her and myself so I wouldn't forget-- and then with extra delight at hearing "dik du" and realizing I had recognized Chechen. She would've smiled, understanding that feeling of picking up words from other languages, and excited to share in watching an obscure foreign film.

After the film I looked at the sun and decided to meander down the sunny streets of the West Village, taking pictures of daffodils and blossoming trees and bicycles tied to stop signs. I walked slowly, and she would've walked slowly too, turning our faces to the sun because that's where I got my adoration of sunshine and warmth. We would've pointed out red doors and dogs with sweaters to each other, and I would've reminisced about my time in Smoszewo with the Chechens, maybe telling her things that I'd never told anyone else about how that trip changed me. She would've been so excited to hear about the woman from the Chechen Advocacy Network that I met last week, and be a full believer in the refugee podcast project, as mothers ought to be of their children's dreams.

Questions I never thought to ask as a stupid 15-year-old kid would've been asked, and I would've listened intently to her answers and theories on love and relationships and family. There were wooden benches by the Hudson River where I spent some time writing, and instead, we would've laughed about the funny couple with matching jackets, planned for Vilja's wedding, or excitedly discussed what the future would hold for Liina's baby. (enjoy her while you can, little baby, she is one incredible woman).

If she'd been with me this afternoon, our feet would've hurt from all the walking and we would've treated ourselves to chocolate croissants. I would've listened now to the things that worried her about family and friends. She would've probably been a dentist again, and I would've asked her about being a woman and balancing family and career and all the other things that I want to do in my life-- and I know she would've told me that family was always number one priority for her and is the most important thing, and for everything else there is a season. My work at the UN would've thrilled her, and I would've allowed myself to get all giddy talking about the people I'm meeting and simply how excited I am to be in the building. That too, came from her. We would've talked about books and shared the latest ones that kept us up all night enthralled.

As the day neared it's end, I went to the temple. She would've come too, and it would've been lovely to sit there together to feel the peaceful spirit and talk about spiritual things.

As it was, maybe we were there together in the temple, maybe she was there. But I know that I came there alone, and I came on this the 12th anniversary of her death to spend some time thinking about my mom, and God and his plan. I thought about how God was the one who took my mother away from me when I was fifteen and how unfair that was, but it was the same God that gave me such comfort knowing that I wasn't alone, and the same God who sent me to that family in the first place. It was the same God who made it possible for me to not only have her as my mother for a brief time, but one day again forever.

Even though I know that, it still would've been beautiful to share an afternoon with her.