I listen to the melody and pretend I am playing your piano as I write this. My fingers move across the keyboard the way yours once did over the keys of your baby grand, the span of your fingers reaching all of the octaves, your arms at times lifting up like wings, giving height and depth to the notes as you rock forward and back and press your whole body into the complexities of Debussy's melody. It pours over me now like a sad waterfall.
There I am again standing in my old room late on a Saturday afternoon, looking out to the garden, the ocean, imagining my life ahead, what I’d grow up to become, as you were finding time to take a break from all the things you did to keep the house and our life in order. When I heard Claire de Lune down below the floorboards, I knew you were becoming yourself again, not my mother anymore, but a girl and a young woman all over again, finding your center, your beginnings, your passion for life in those notes. Did you imagine your life ahead as someone else played the piano, a lilting melody below your floorboards as you stood in front of your own bedroom window wondering where life would take you?
I see friends and strangers functioning around me, smiling, cooking, laughing, treating life so effortlessly as it comes to them while they walk their dogs, drive their cars and go about their normal day at sunrise, at mid-day, at sunset, and my brain can’t get past the fact that I’ll never see you again. I want to tell them, my mother died… stop… my mother died. I’ll never kiss her forehead, her cheeks again, or hold her hand in mine and feel her warmth against my skin. I’ll never smell her perfume or her fragrant skin creams, intoxicating and permeating the air I breathe.
I am listening to your Claire de Lune over and over now and I am drifting to you again. I am crying but we are together and I can almost feel you and smell you again. I want to think that you are in a better place but I still selfishly want you here with me. I want to go back to those Saturday afternoons, just you and me in the house together, Dad coming through the kitchen door, finding me getting dinner started, you seated at the piano just beginning your practice.
I know I can never go back and neither can you, none of us can, but if I could relive some of the days of my childhood, I’d pick a Saturday, late in the afternoon... the end of daylight fading but clinging to your piano’s caramel glow, illuminating the expression in your face, your winged arms moving across that black and white palette, watching you paint Clair de Lune with everything you had, your hands full of life, full of compassion for that lonely moonlight your fingers knew so well.