April 6, 2016. My sister and I were visiting our mother in New York. One objective was for just the three of us to be there together. Another was to explore places in the city none of us had been. We decided to go to The Freedom Tower. It was a cold, clear, sunny day, perfect for the motto of the place, “See Forever”.
We walked slowly from window to window, admiring this city we had loved for forty years. Our mother was preparing to move south where she would be closer to us. Essentially, we were saying good-bye to New York. That is probably why we gave into the sentimentality of the occasion and bought “See Forever” souvenirs: a charm, a bracelet and a sweatshirt.
At the time, I felt “See Forever” meant looking into the future with optimism. New York as we had known it would be gone forever, but we still had each other. However, everything changed more rapidly than we could see or imagine.
Death creates details. Dealing with them was the last thing in the world my sister and I wanted to do, but we soldiered through them. They created a trail. We followed it until the date was set for moving our mother’s belongings to our respective homes.
April 6, 2017. It was not cold, clear or sunny. The pea-soup fog made it impossible to see beyond the balcony, much less the greater view beyond. There was no seeing forever. The rainy weather forced a different perspective. Questions tumbled into my mind. Do any of us really want to see forever? As a matter of fact, what does it even mean? Could seeing forever have more to do with looking inward than with looking outward? Could our hearts and souls see as well as our eyes?
The doorbell shrilled and interrupted my runaway thoughts. The movers came inside. They assessed. They started packing. As soon as the first box went out the door, my mind coalesced around only one fact: I was in the process of leaving New York and my mother’s home. I didn’t want to see forever.
April 7, 2017. My sister and I had one more day in the city. We meandered along our favorite avenues and streets. Eventually, we entered a small gift shop. I turned down an aisle and froze in front of a decorative plaque that proclaimed: “Home is where your mother is”. My sister entered the same aisle. “What’s up?” she asked.
I pointed to the plaque. We stood there for a few moments, teary-eyed. Then my sister said, “It’s true, only now we’re the home.” She was right. The torch had been passed, and with it, a new understanding. If sight is a sliding scale of looking inward, outward, backward and forward, then seeing forever is the melody of eyes, heart and soul.