The Reminder

Have you ever stared at someone because they reminded you of someone you’ve lost? It’s as though the person was there, in the flesh, ready and eager to say the things they didn’t have a chance to say before their passing.

I was driving home from work the other day and found myself staring at someone, only it wasn’t because she reminded me of of a loved one who passed. I was staring at someone who reminded me of someone who was still alive.

Sitting at a red light, I looked in my rear-view mirror. The familiar-looking woman behind me was driving an equally familiar car. Her hair was the same, her sunglasses were the same, and the expression was spot-on. The shape of her mouth, her cheekbones and neck all looked the same. It was my mom, or so it seemed. And all I could do was stare.

And stare.

And stare.

The staring had drawn me in so much that she tapped her horn when the light turned green, but she continued to stay behind me. Stopped at the next signal, I stared some more. The car was a dark gray Camry, just like the one my dad drives. My mom has a pretty severe hip issue, so my first thought was, “Oh, so that’s what it’ll look like after she has her surgery and can finally be out and about again.” For the time being, it’s hard for her to get into anything aside from her SUV, so seeing “her” in a smaller, lower car was like a peek into the future — a future full of health and healing. A fresh start.

Without trying to sound morbid (and making the assumption that I won’t be departing anytime soon), I often think about what it will be like when my parents are no longer here. Will I want to live in California anymore? Will I even want to live in the country anymore? Will I still love Christmas, the holidays and family dinners — or not, because they aren’t there? Perhaps I’ll enjoy dinners with a new, updated and extended group of family members by that time, but I don’t know. I doubt it.

“By that time.” It’s a time that scares me. We really don’t know when it will come — it could come any day, it could come in 30 years. I don’t like thinking about it, but I know that I’ll have to at some point.

But for now, I don’t have to. I saw my mom in the woman who was driving behind me the other day, and that woman made me so thankful that my mom is still here, that she’ll soon have her quality of life back, and I’m thankful for the reminder to enjoy every day with her — because we don’t know when those days will end.

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