This morning, the highway was filled with a multitude of disembodied headlights, each one searching through a seemingly inexhaustible mist, an optical illusion a bit tough to handle at 6AM when you’re still sleeping.
I made it onto the train and stared out the window at the relentless sheets of rain.
The dark and rainy skies made me think of a night many years ago when I went to my parent’s house after a slew of frantic phone calls from my mother. She would freak out on a fairly regular basis back then.
At the time, she was in the late beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and I was still in total denial.
I pulled into the driveway and saw her silhouette standing in the open doorway. I remember thinking she looked peaceful standing there and not the frantic woman I’d just spoken to on the phone.
I called her name.
As I walked up the stairs, I could see her staring off into the distance, detached and trancelike.
I stood next to her to try and see what she was looking at when she said, “Look. There’s million’s of them.”
“Millions of what, Mom?” I asked.
“Stars,” she said, “Can’t you see them?”
In the front yard there was an old oak tree, the leaves still dripping from the heavy rain. Behind the oak, I could see the front porch light from the Jacobson’s house up on the hill illuminating the thousands of falling raindrops.
Stars, I thought, it’s raining stars.
I took off my glasses to see the world, if only for a moment, through my mother’s eyes.
A simple oak tree was being transformed into an impressionistic masterpiece right in front of me, thanks to a few misfiring neurons located somewhere in my mother’s brain.
“It’s beautiful, Mom.” I said.
“Yes. It is…” She replied.
I didn’t realize it at the time but the raindrops falling from the tree closely echoed the neurological avenue my mother was currently traveling down. The drops of rain falling and disappearing into the waiting earth were so much like her failing memory, a collection of antiquated shooting stars ultimately destined to crash and burn, their celestial beauty gone all too soon.
As we stood silently on the porch, an internal cog clicked inside me. It was a frightening moment of absolute realization.
My phase of denial had finally come to an end.