For as long as I can remember, a beautiful emerald-green vase has perched on Mom’s nightstand.
I have come to remember her as that vase: whole, perfect, filled with fresh vivacity, and reminiscent of fragrant flowers.
The first chip in the vase appeared when Mom lost her keys. She searched the whole house for them, winding up and down the stairs and stroking the mahogany banister enough to polish it with her worry.
The keys were in her pocket.
The chip became a crack when Mom decided to take a drive through the city to her hair stylist and ended up lost just outside of Portland.
It was the last time she drove a car.
The second crack in the vase came when Mom forgot that Daddy had been gone for years. She set a place at the table for him and became bellicose when he didn’t show up to eat shells and peas with the rest of us.
Any day now, the vase is going to shatter. The elegant verdant glass is already splitting open. Mom is leaking memories and taking on oblivion. My sister Kate and I look on helplessly, unable to abate the flow or keep her from sinking.
All we can do is preserve what Mom has forgotten, understand her as she is now, and remember her as she used to be.
That which passes into darkness takes light with it, and I can see Mom perfectly through her shattered and shadowed past.