By Kathryn Stinson

July 3, 2017


A radio interviewer asks an aging mystic, “What will you miss the most when you leave this world?” My mind replies silently, sunlight on moving water, and fills with images: afternoon light glancing off the lake, morning sun on ocean tidepools.

My brother pulls up a highchair and straps in little Frankie, who has just turned one. Over pancakes, Frankie watches me with wide eyes and a rounded lower lip, looking like a baby picture of our mother come to life, though Mom died in 2012. In 2013, I fell asleep one afternoon and woke (so I dreamed) to a phone ringing – a landline, though our home has no service. “Hello?” I answered. Her voice came back gravelly, uncertain, “Kat? …Hi!”

What did she miss the most? The smell of garden dirt? Raw oysters? The sound of crickets under the window?

When I was 24, she remodeled the dining room, took apart the old chandelier, and made its crystal droplets, each a tiny prism, into Christmas ornaments. She shipped them to each of her children, so reminders of dinners together hung on trees in three different cities.

Perhaps reincarnation happens like that. Perhaps consciousness is like water, pouring itself into different forms, and some fragment of Mom’s awareness, having evaporated and coalesced, is sitting across from me, discovering all over again the warm fluffiness of pancakes and sweet stickiness of syrup. Or maybe she is simply a face, peering into a fishbowl, remembering what it felt like to swim.

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