It was July 1996 and we were on a road trip from South Dakota to Massachusetts, via a route that took us south to North Carolina and then up the east coast to our destination—my husband’s parents in Massachusetts.
On our way up the east coast, we stopped in Washington DC. This was my first time on the east coast and my first time in our Nation’s capital. I was in the 7th grade, when I first had an opportunity to travel to Washington DC as part of our school trip for spring break. My mom was a working single mom and couldn’t afford the entire trip, but she really wanted me to go so she called my dad, who had not been paying child support for years and asked him to pay half of the cost and she would cover the other half. My dad said no. And I could see the pain in mom’s eyes as she told me I would not be able to go. It was okay, I understood and I let it go.
I never thought I would make it there. And then I did as part of our trip across the U.S. for our move to Turkey.
As I walked the National Mall toward the Lincoln Memorial, in the pouring rain from a tropical storm that followed us up the coast and soaked to the bone, I talked to mom. “Look mom, I’m here….I finally made it!” I know mom was with me that day, smiling and thrilled that I finally made it to one of my “bucket list” places.
Yesterday was THAT kind of day. As my year started on my 51st birthday, I was dreading this year……and scared I wouldn’t live longer than my mom or that I would miss out on all that she had missed. So my husband, my rock and biggest supporter, made plans for us to attend the Rose Parade in Pasadena. He knew the parade was one of the things that my mom and I had dreamed of attending together. What better time to do it than the year I found myself holding my breath….a celebration of not just surviving but thriving this year.
So, on New Year’s Day, with tickets in hand we drove to Pasadena. I was thrilled and excited. A bucket list item….a HUGE bucket list item was about to be realized and I knew mom was with me.
Yesterday, before the sun was up, we left our hotel room for the parade. It was exhilarating! We parked and with thousands of others, we headed to our viewing spot….in the stands with reserved seats. And we waited for the parade to start, talking with others as the bleachers filled in. The excitement was contagious.
And just before the parade started the seats next to me filled in…….well two of the seats did. The seat next to me was EMPTY…..this was my mom’s seat.
And I felt her sitting there next to me……bouncing to the beat of the marching bands as they played in front of our stands……..oohing and aahing over the floats, amazed at the size and beauty of them. And I could feel her joy at seeing this parade in person……just like we had dreamed of doing.
Yes, mom was there with me….and I whispered to her, “Look mom, we made it! We are here!”