I spent last night with my step-mother. She took me to her favorite stores in search of a dress I needed to wear to a wedding this weekend. We ate food, laughed and talked. So much talking. But it was all a dream. My step-mom passed away almost ten years ago after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
In my dream, she help me pick out the perfect dress which of course was a pant suit. The mall where we shopped was filled with stores that were all about her: an old school ceramics store/studio with tons of bisque ware and glazes, a Ports store, a Canadian fashion house and her favorite place for clothes, and an entire shop selling her signature fragrance Chloe.
She insisted on eating at a trendy salad place which didn’t exist in her lifetime but is my eldest daughter’s favorite eatery. I think those two would have been wonderful friends with loads of shared interests and inside jokes. And she would have been my youngest daughter’s biggest cheerleader as she rides horses and takes on new adventures.
This dream was bittersweet. It was so vivid and real but has left me with a sad ache and a longing for a good long chat with this beautiful woman. In 2011, three years after her death, I saw a box of her favorite perfume on a department store shelf and I wrote this poem. My One Hit Wonder was originally published in Time and Place.
My One Hit Wonder
I see Chloe.
Not the neighbour’s kid.
Not the co-worker.
The small peach box with white lettering sitting on the department store shelf.
The box brings the scent.
The scent brings her back.
Not the last her.
Not the her of morphine and methadone listening to the looped music of her life.
Not the her of drains, bags and stints tying her to this world.
That was not her.
She was purple silk dresses,
And floral wallpaper.
White wine spritzers,
With pretty toes.
Bone dry chocolate cake,
And succulent meat pie.
A pixie cut,
With earrings and necklace to match.
She was training bras and rat tails.
Road trips and silly songs.
A nail biting spooner.
And queen of the kaftan.
My cheerleader and secret keeper.
My so bad it’s good decorator.
She was that wacky Christmas ornament.
And the perfect birthday card.
The woman, the daughter, the sister, the aunt, the partner, the friend.
She was my one hit wonder.
My other mother.
And still this was not her.