I went shopping with my mom today, which is only strange because she has been dead for a little over two years.
For better or for worse, that was our thing, shopping. As I was growing up, she joked that when she died she wanted her ashes spread in Macy's. Only that was the Macy's of the '80s, the Macy's where she bought Norma Kamali while I hid inside racks of clothes. No offense to Federated, but today's Macy's is not the Macy's in which my mom wanted to be scattered.
Her ashes have been in my underwear drawer for two years now. At the funeral home, intimidated by too many choices of urns, I chose a large, thick, envelope to put her in. Apparently you can bury the envelope and it will biodegrade, and seeing as how we didn't know exactly where we were going to scatter her ashes, I chose a pretty lavender envelope, which is where she has been ever since. I put the envelope in my underwear drawer because I had terrible visions of the cats getting to her, and as the years go by, I've been having even worse images of the envelope biodegrading right there. Each morning I become increasingly tense as I reach for my undies, fearing I will find a fine dusting of my mom on all of my skivvies.
Don't worry. She would find this funny.
Zoey has been wanting to honor her Grandma Glitter, so I thought we would celebrate her today, on the Day of the Dead. We drove into the city and went to all of the stores we used to go to with her, stores I won't name here because I maybe might have scattered a few ashes in them. Just a teaspoon or two. It's amazing really, the heft of ashes one person becomes, something I discovered when I finally opened the envelope. Surreal does not even begin to describe how I had to tell Ozzy that no, he couldn't play with the sand as I scooped a little bit into a portable Ziploc snack baggie. I didn't tell him it was Grandma Glitter. At 4, he couldn't possibly understand. At 43, I still can't. That was not my mom in that envelope, but what was her, what was so perfectly honoring who she was and she will forever be in our hearts, was the act of covertly dusting just a teeny pinch near some Betsey Johnson jewelry. Behind a rack of sparkly sweaters. On the floor of the store where she bought Zoey her bear named Marshmallow.
My mom didn't often go by the rules. And she loved to shop. Never and always really, if you knew her. So today, for the first time in a long time, I felt like she was with me again. Of course I didn't take any photos, and there isn't exactly any stock photography of scattering ashes in retail environments. (Seriously, I just looked. It's all beautific images of people holding hands as they toss puffs of people across green lawns.) So I chose the image above because this is what it felt like, finally scattering just a teaspoon of my mom--it's like building a road where none exists. You look around and you see all these roads carved into mountains and you forget that someone had to do that. Make it happen. Forge ahead full of hope because there is no other way for that road to be built. So many deep thoughts, onward and upward, but really, what I'm trying to say, is that it wasn't comfortable getting a fine sediment of my mom stuck beneath my fingernails. It was scary. But it was also amazing, profound, it was progress, and yes, it was uplifting to go shopping with her again because I know she was with us as we sprinkled bits of her across pretty things, things as glittery and magical as she was.