Mar 20, 2006

The Last Gift

I have this scarf. Velvety rayon, its knit body is beginning to tear in a few places. Its wide stripes are an unlikely mix of deep rose, maroon, rich orange, and chocolate brown. It went well with my salon-created dark auburn hair. It now goes well with my naturally silver hair. And it always makes me feel warmer.

This scarf was a present from my mother on my fortieth birthday, the last gift I would ever receive from her. Which is why, when I left it on the coat hook in a restaurant on Saturday, I panicked. The young man who answered the phone was obliging, and said he would try to set it aside, but he also said we'd better get it soon or it would be bound to disappear. So John dropped by the next day and retrieved it for me. (Thank you, dear!)

Yesterday, March 19, was the seventh anniversary of my mother's death. We all went with my father to her gravesite in Valley Forge Park. Next to my mother lies my brother David. Will was screaming that he was cold, but we weren't ready to go. I said "How about wearing my scarf?" and he agreed. So there he was, this big long scarf around his neck, almost dragging on the ground and clashing fiercely with his red jacket. (Unlike Jack, Will loves to accessorize.) There we were, huddled against the March wind, my father and I with our own memories and thoughts, John doing his best to answer Jack and Will's questions, and telling them not to stand or jump on any gravestones. John took a picture of us as we smiled and leaned into each other.

As we walked back to the car, I said, "I can't believe it's been seven years." John agreed. But then he said, "And yet it was a lifetime ago." We looked at the boys, Jack reading the names of the dead out loud, Will prancing around, the scarf billowing and blowing. I pulled my collar tighter and rubbed Jack's cold hands together with mine. "We should come back some time when the weather is warm," laughed John. "We keep coming on March 19." We promise ourselves we will return in May to walk the towpaths of the Perkiomen Creek, to revel in the sun and seek respite in the dappled shade. Meanwhile, we seek shelter from the cold.

1 comment:

Anjali said...

Great post, Lauren. So glad you found your scarf. I would have CRIED if you hadn't!