Conversations with Mary

I think about my mom a lot. It’s been 10 months and four days since I last talked with her. I remember parts of our last conversation so well. Late one Sunday afternoon, I was making black bean burgers while my mom, dad and I were chatting over speaker phone. Whenever I imagine my final conversation with someone, it’s gently at their bedside, holding their hand, talking of the utmost important things like love and Heaven and more love. I imagine sage advice and unbridled opinions like date this boy and not that one. Always remember to keep a spare $20 in your car just in case. Look after your brother (I told him to look after you too). Do the things you love, forget the things you don’t. Always wear sunscreen, young lady. Remember to use shortening in my chocolate chip cookie recipe — that’s why mine are so good. Above all, know that I’ve loved being yours.

Mom and Em Smooch at Seabrook

Never had I imagined some of the last words my mom would hear me say would be about the texture of black beans in a blender versus mashing them with a fork while preparing damned black bean burgers. But that’s real life.

Every few minutes, I’d stop the conversation so I could pulse the ingredients together in the blender. We’d go back to chatting, talking about the concert I’d be leaving for just minutes later, and catching up on their weekend. It was just a regular ol’ conversation. I don’t remember the last thing she or I said to the other but I know all of our conversations always ended up with some variation of the compound word KLoveYouBye.

My life is not the same now as it was then. Since I last spoke with my mom my life has felt like an allergy medicine commercial that hasn’t lifted the film at the end yet. There’s so much she doesn’t know and there’s so much to fill her in on. I so often wonder what she would think about our lives. I know she believed that we would be okay, that we would survive at first and then spread our wings to fly again. I know she believed in us.

Mom Em Vickie

There is such joy in remembering her. With a little imagination, I try to fill in the gaps of what she might be saying to us. First, I think she’d be proud of us. I think she’d wear a Whistle Necklace every day. I think she’d tell me to eat more vegetables and remind me that ice cream is not dinner.Then, I think she’d agree that ice cream is healing for the soul so actually, it’s okay. You only live once. Eat ice cream for dinner. I think she’d tell me to loosen my grip on anxiety and worry, and let them float away like a rogue balloon.

I’ll never have a human-to-human conversation with her like that last day. But I’ve found I talk to her a lot. (I curse her sometimes, too.) But more often, I consult her opinion, ask her to help jog my memory, and try to hear her laugh. Usually, a memory will come, I’ll close my eyes and remember her laughing out loud. If there’s one thing my mom wasn’t, it was quiet.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, she is surely talking to us.

I just pray for the ears to listen.

Whistling: This song.




2 Replies to “Conversations with Mary”

  1. Darling Emily. As usual you insight and word pictures put me in awe. Great pictues, too. Never saw the one of the three of you. Was that at Walnut Creek?
    Your dad called and we chatted as he drove home from work.
    I want to pizza night. Big gang. Megan’s first time since and she was in distress. Little Bit got passed around and cuddled and the “Wiggers” were there, in town from Cal. Your dad showed Barb, Dale and me the memory garden he planted for Mary, Vickie and Lewis. A great idea.
    Please let me know when you will be next in Durham.
    Love and hugs, Jay


    1. Hi Jay —

      Great to hear from you. I believe the picture is from Walnut Creek. We should double-check with my Dad for sure! I’m glad you were able to make it to Pizza Night — that’s one of my favorite things. I’ll let you know when I’m in town next.

      Much love,


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