During my visit to the optometrist this past week, the technician reviewed what I had told him before about my family history of illnesses.
“Anything else?” he asked.
“My mom had lung cancer.”
After typing this into my medical record, he asked, “How is she doing now?”
“She is deceased.”
We sat in silence as he continued to skim through my medical chart.
While it is true that I think about my mother every day, it’s not like I think about her every day. It’s more like a reaction: Someone has eyes that are shaped like hers. An older woman walks through the grocery store clutching her purse the same way my mom did. I purchased that Sakura Pigma Micron Pen during a visit home before she died.
Then there was that one time I was walking through a park in Seattle and I saw a tree. The branches were full of pink flowers. Half of the tree was dark with shadow; the other half was doused in sunlight. I know it sounds weird, but that tree was my mother. After staring at the tree for a few moments, I gave up trying to understand why I believed that tree was my mother.
I waved good-bye to the tree.
Sometimes I’m not prepared to think about my mother, but the occasion requires it. Like when the optometrist’s technician asked me about my family history. I was chiefly prepared for questions about which image was clearer: one, or two.
Or when the website asked me a security question because I changed my browser: “What is your mother’s maiden name?”
You mean, what was her maiden name.
Today is Easter Sunday. Christian clergy across the world shared verses from the Gospels today, perhaps even this one from the Book of Luke:
Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!1
Sometimes we do not even seek the dead among the dead. We know that they will be there; we know that they have not risen.
We don’t need to seek the dead among the living. They appear throughout our lives, sometimes when we least expect it.