The most cherished mornings were those when I triumphantly believed I was the first to wake, and I would sneak out of my lavender bedroom to daydream on the oatmeal stairs. If it were just the right moment, God would gently break apart the clouds, allowing the yellow sunlight to filter into the tall, rectangular windows beside our wooden door. The light was partially obstructed by the sheer window coverings, but the light, ever the southern gentleman, would cordially introduce himself, bowing in his charming way, making the curtain blush. They were fast lovers, entangled in each others inanimate arms. I could not have fathomed a greater romance.
Despite living in a Texan home, the mornings like this one were delicately chilly—one would always poke a toe onto the worn wooden floors like a shy teenager testing the pool’s water. If you could dance on your tiptoes, darting across our home was no problem. But to stand in the greatness of the love affair between the sun and the curtain was to feel the warmth on your childish toes. Light, ever the deeply romantic lover, exposed the intricacies of his darling’s sheerness. He bled through her being, penetrating the air, creating a thin slivered triangle of their love, that was projected onto the orange wood. It was not a stagnant projection, and often shifted, to and fro, much like a pendulum reading time, yet unaware of its effect on a world consumed by each tick of the seconds hand.
He was not a shy man. Their love, due to the nature of his being, was not two-dimensional. Their tenderness breezily awakened the dust particles floating through our home. I remember shuddering in awe at the movement of the dust, how my hands could direct their waltz if I shook my hand and twiddled my fingers just so. A minute universe hidden to all except for in this moment of filtered morning light. It frightened me. Did I unknowingly breathe in these particles, separating them from their dancing families? Or would I breathe them out again, and my body, my lungs, just a vacation, a honeymoon, a journey that which their loved ones would not worry when their presence was no longer immediate?
These thoughts were halted when I heard the tinny patter and clink of dishes being moved back and forth from table to cabinet, from sink to counter. Alas, I was not alone in this morning! My mother has always been the picture of the Psalm 31 woman. She rises before the sun, and in her soul knows what must be done. Her hands, which I believed must have been the template for all hands, were so strong and steady, a deep brown. She would always put hers and mine together, remarking, with silly mirth in her brown eyes, that her fingers were slightly chubbier than mine. I could not see it, our fingers were the same width and height, the same slender ballet dancers, hugging and embracing as mother and daughter. Her hands were worn with the knowledge of motherhood and God, they were everything my hands dreamed of becoming. She was both the light and the sheer curtain, strong, unabashedly opinionated, but also of quiet and gentle soul. You can see the smile of Jesus in each curl and wave of her black hair. If you look close enough, the deep blue-black of her coarse mane appeared to be the universe itself, glinting and shining, proud and humble, knowing itself to be of the Alpha and Omega.
On mornings like those cherished ones, when I am far away from the rectangular windows and the orange wood and my mother’s hands, I wonder solemnly what the world will be like when her soul no longer wakes before the dawn here on earth. I have dreamt about that moment, and I wake with sweat drowning every limb, crying uncontrollably. I know, I know, I know, that she will be safe in our Father’s arms, that she will wake to his shining face, that she will be with her mother again, but when I relive the moment when she received the phone call that confirmed her mother's death, when I see her body crumpling against the white laundry room door, when I hear her throat producing roars of agony, when I see her eyes pouring out so many tears I thought her eyes would also surely roll down her face, I am still.
She wears red like God intended it to be worn, she speaks with a clarity and strength that I have not been able to find emulated in church or in school, she is the mother who held me when I surely thought all life would end when my heart was broken, she was the mother that told me that to forgive was to love, to forgive was to love, to forgive was to love.
These thoughts are silly and should not be the songs of charming mornings like these, but there lives a bitter beauty in the bottom of my coffee cup.
I cannot say why I feared destroying the bonds of a dust particle’s family on those silly, slow mornings—perhaps it was just a child’s inane imagination—but I cannot help but to wonder if those musings were rooted in my own trepidation of being a speck of dust, floating alone in the yellow sunlight, being pitied by a child of only nine, unable to find my family.