Red-Belt Wrapped

She was cinched around my waist,

red elastic
hugging ribs
and abdomen
and the part of my gut
where I tend to feel all my feelings,

and her.

I didn’t think I would bring her last weekend.

I thought there would be
too much to do,
too many problems that would need to be solved,
too many worries that would need to be stressed about.

I had made up my mind.
There would be too much muchness,
so no,
Mom,
I can’t deal with my stuff right now.

I stood before a bag of
tossed-in clothes,
head spinning with
Will I be enough?
and
You don’t have time to feel.

bagclothes

Yet,
like a child too tired to continue
the journey home,
I set down
my fistful of
tights
and toothbrush,
got on my knees
and closed my eyes.

I slid my fingers
over the dusty lip of
a dresser drawer.
The bottom one.
The broken one.

This drawer isn’t opened often.
It holds things that don’t belong to me.
Most times,
it’s easier to pretend
it isn’t there.

I held my breath,
gripped the edge,
and starred down
the contents of that drawer that called to be opened.
What I saw was
red.

belt

I pulled it out,
– red elastic screaming of the 80s –
a belt
that had once hugged my mother’s hips,
the final touch on outfits for Christmas parties
and picnics
and days of just-because-it’s-fun-to-wear-something-wild.

My cheeks blushed.
You were always glamorous,
Mom.

Mom

Most days,
I’m quite the opposite.
I could wear the same outfit four days in a row
and not care.

Maybe you were like that once, too,
Mom.
And maybe you weren’t.
But you were always so beautiful,
Mom.
You always were.

It’s kind of funny to think that
there was a time when
I, your little girl,
was pretty sure
I wasn’t pretty,

because how could feeling abandoned
feel beautiful?

Snap out of it,
Taylor.

You don’t have time to feel.

I wanted to stand up,
to keep on with efficiency
and schedule,
but,
there was
red
clutched in my hands.

Maybe this red would be okay,
just to place
in my bag,
and carry,
even if it’s just to touch,
to feel its thin chords
and fuzzy edges
and chipped center.

Maybe that kind of feeling this weekend will be
ok.

Saturday morning came,
before the sun rose.
I tucked my fingers around
top and skirt,
tights and shoes.

As I grabbed the last items of black and white formality,
there was red,

there was you.

I got dressed,
washing face
and combing hair
and putting deodorant on for possibly the second time.

But red
caught my eye
and I couldn’t stop myself from thinking,

Maybe you’d like to come to the conference with me,
Mom…

I sat down
on untucked sheets
and a mass of pillows.

Here we go,
the unplanned.

Mom,
I know you can’t be here,
but I would really like it if you could.

I just want you with me today,
so the sun could warm our backs,
and we could hold hands,
and people might even ask if we were sisters,
and we’d laugh
and look at each other
and know
deep
love.

Mom,
I know you can’t be here,
but if you don’t mind,
I’m going to take you with me, today.
I need to do today
with you.

I reached for red.

Your beginning
and end
rested on my rough palms.
I slid you around
my waist,
tarnished buckle on the first notch.

I closed my eyes,
feeling my center.

It buzzed
and hummed
with your smile
and bombshell energy.
It made me giggle.

I looked in the mirror

and there you were,

arms wrapped around me,
squeezing me,
pressing me.

Your love was fastened
to my core

like the days when you
held me at your side
when I didn’t know what cancer was,
and why it was in you,
and if you’d be there tomorrow

like the days when you
knelt down
and tickle-attacked me
till I howled mercy
and nearly wet my pants

like the day when you
reached up
and touched me
for the last time.

mombaby

Mom,
you’ve been gone
for a while,
and some days

it feels too long.

But last Saturday,
you could not have been closer.

Last weekend,
everyone I spoke with
got to meet you, too.

Even if it was only for 24 hours,
your smile
became infused with mine.

Your feet
slid into my shoes.

We didn’t walk.
No,
we danced.

We held hands
and hugged
and stitched together the seams of heaven and earth.

It was the kind of gift
that could only be given
by a Heavenly Father
who knows the desires of my heart
more than even I do.

No,
no one knew
that they were meeting you,

but I know they felt you.
I just do.

I saw it in their smiles,
and their hugs,
the way people welcomed me,
and spoke to me.
I swear,
some people even looked at me
like a mother looks at her child.

IMG_8376

They felt you, Mom,
and me,
and Him.

For as I raised my hands
and closed my eyes,
all I could feel
was you
cinched around my waist,
around my gut,
where I tend to feel all my feelings
and you.

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12 responses to “Red-Belt Wrapped

  1. Thank you for bringing your Mom with you into the forefront world, as there isn’t anywhere, with anyone she’d rather be …. wrapped around and in you in Spirit, walking into each day hand in hand. It is always a heartbreaking, while most celebrative tribute when you write to/about your loving parents. That you so deeply love and remember their unique ‘selves’ is their eternal gift. Gratitude for your soulful reflections.

    • Susan, I know it has been a long time since we’ve seen each other, but my memories of you, Sarah and Danny are so wonderful. Thank you for being such a positive and powerful part of my childhood. Those memories will be stored in my heart forever!

  2. Precious, precious Taylor…I had no idea when it was our ‘by coincidence’ black and red day on Saturday that well, God had the thing planned to the last stitch. Oh my sweet friend, what a story. What a story. I love you, you know.

    • When I think of these tiny details that seem so coincidental, I can’t help but point towards heaven, smile and think of our tender Abba Father, who planted these little seeds to add JOY to our lives. Love you, Jody!

  3. This was so beautiful Taylor. I loved meeting you and I guess those beautiful parts of your mother too. Stunning work. I often think of my father when I’m in the middle of a story, he was the best storyteller I ever knew.

    • Alia, it was so wonderful meeting you! I love how our parents are within us – even when they aren’t on this earth, the impact they have on us as children shapes us in the present. For all the good times, and the hard times, I am thankful. Thanks for sharing about your dad, too. I hope I get to hear his stories someday when we’re reunited in heaven!

  4. Oh our dearest Taylor-Leaving a comment while still recovering (literally) from the conference and I just had to try to leave a comment. Thank you for your heart you gave the entire weekend (and months before the conference). And, thank you for your beautiful words here, your heart-wrenching story, inspired by your mom’s red belt, as modeled here in this photo of us three blondes 🙂 You looked stunning the entire weekend, especially in this outfit punctuated by your mom’s belt. I just sob reading this. Your mother was indeed with you the entire weekend; your relationship with her, the love you felt for her, the love she had for you just shines through and continues on and on, and we are so incredibly blessed by your presence, your beauty, both inside and out, and by your story telling. When you say, “I swear, some people even looked at me
    like a mother looks at her child,” I say, Yes, me-I will say it again, you are like another daughter to me. So thankful you are in my life, to share Faith & Culture Writers, to share lives, to share stories. -Love you, Cornelia

    • Cornelia, as always, your words sink so deep in my heart. I don’t think there has even been a time when I was with you and I didn’t feel anything but loved. From the start, you held my hand and embraced me. Even as broken as I am, you have encouraged me and have proclaimed Hope and Glory over my wounds. Know that I store each and every conversation with you in my heart. I’m so grateful for your love. Love you!

  5. Oh, Taylor, How beautiful, your words. Honest and brave and oh, so full of love and longing. How proud she must be of you, how proud we all are of you – your giving heart, your faithfulness, your devotion, your joy spilled out in the midst of great pain. What a gift you were to her and now are to all of us. I am so glad we had that moment, however brief. I hope we get more of them in the coming year.

    • Karen, I said it once and I will say it a thousand times, I respect you so much and your words are a blessing to me. The few conversations we’ve had have left an impression on me – and it all points back to the love of a Heavenly Father and the promise of redemption and restoration, even when I feel like I’m sitting in the rubble. Our relationship is a gift to me and I praise God for you! I can’t wait for our future conversations. Love to you, Karen!

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