February 10th. My mother has been dead for a year. We all went for lunch this afternoon to one of her and Dad’s favorite places. When our check came my sister suggested we extend our love and pay another diner’s tab. Our eyes trailed the booths and tables. How could we ever choose? I shared our intention with our waitress and asked for her help. “Do you have any other tables?” “Just one.” She gestured her chin toward a woman sitting alone at a small table in the back section of the restaurant. “We would like to pay her bill. But please don’t share this with her until we leave. I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable.” I sign each check and we are gathering our things to go when I see our waitress making her way toward me wide eyed. “I am so sorry,” she says, “I had to tell her! She was getting ready to leave and asked for her check!” I start to say “Don’t worry” but the waitress continues, “And you won’t believe this… This is the anniversary of HER mother’s death! She is shaking and crying over there in disbelief!”
Not disbelief, I think. Belief.
Momma has been teaching me this.
I raise my eyes to the woman who is clutching her chest with one hand and blowing kisses with the other. I feel our hearts melting together and I am drawn towards her. “Thirty years ago I lost my mother,” she tells me when I arrive. And suddenly I am in a timeless blur where I am hugging this stranger and feeling my mother – sad and happy in grief and wonder.
Crossposted to Instagram