Why do some people think they see a “sign” from a person they know has died? I think I could interpret anything I see or experience as a sign if I believed in signs. But because I don’t, I am left with nothing of my mother in this life except my memories. Sometimes, I strain to see a sign, but what appears is a thick, black, tightly woven fabric on a frame - a room divider in an unlit room, stretched and nailed from one wall to the opposite wall and from the floor to the ceiling. There is no way to go around it or over it. I am on one side and my mother is on the other side.

Everything I think about or experience can no longer be shared with her. She was 97 years old when she died. It has been six months and I am only now beginning to miss that connection in a very emotional way. It is a lonely feeling, bereft, abandoned. Perhaps because I am alone quite a bit, I think about her more. The last years of her life were difficult - she lived in a nursing home, she was blind and almost deaf. I lived a thousand miles away, though my visits were becoming more frequent during those last years. And no amount of coercion would change her mind about leaving Florida and moving up to Virginia where I lived. There were days when she would call me two or three times, voicing legitimate complaints about not getting her meds on time, or waiting interminably for someone to help her to the bathroom. She felt helpless, frustrated and angry. 

I would say that what I am experiencing now is “complicated grief.” At times, I feel relieved and free from the responsibility of being her sole advocate in the world, of running interference between her and the nursing home; other times, I miss the mother who overcame adversity with humor, a strong will and an intense compassion and love for the people in her life..

Lately, when I look in the mirror, when I wash my face with a washcloth, when I sigh or purse my lips, I see my mother in me. When I worry about my son, not hearing from him when I think on that particular day, he should have called, I am my mother, who never stopped worrying about me. Since her death, I have written three poems and now, this piece. She is the theme of my life right now - my artistic inspiration…

Is it a sign? 


Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

 I am a retired school teacher/caterer. I still love to do both and work and volunteer at a homeless shelter and a children's day care center. I am also taking poetry writing classes. I just recently moved from the country to the city and I am enjoying walking everywhere and attending many events and festivals around Charlottesville.