When you send a mom an email (or the wisdom of Sting).

Stressed outWhen you send a mom an email, she might volunteer to provide treats for her child’s holiday party.

When she realizes she’s run out of cupcake papers, she might add that to her list for the store.

When she gets to the store and fills her cart, someone might tell her that, no, they do not carry cupcake papers.

When she goes to yet another store and buys those cupcake papers (but not Dixie cups because they didn’t have any), she might think she’s done shopping.

When she then leaves the store to pick up her kids, she might see a sign on the school door that reminds her of the pajama drive and say to herself, “*&%$, I forgot about that!”

When she goes to yet ANOTHER store to buy the pajamas, she might realize she could have just gotten everything there.

When she comes home from that last store (with plenty of other items), she might realize that she could also have picked up Dixie cups at the last store.

When she washes her hands and finds that the liquid soap pump sprays foam all over her sweater because it has more air than soap in it, she might add that she could have bought the hand soap she keeps forgetting at that last store too.

When she puts her headphones on to take a break finally, she might hear the song, “Wrapped Around Your Finger.”

When she listens to the line, “Then you’ll find your servant is your master,” she might think that this sums up her relationship with the American retail industry precisely.

Mental scrapbooks.

Fifteen years ago, I stood in a bar with my husband and a friend from work and looked across the room into the back corner. I remember wood and barstools, the faint glow from some light. The image is burned into my consciousness, like a Polaroid snapshot. Though the evening was uneventful, the moment was representative of that time in my life. Occasionally my mind grants me these flashes of hyper-awareness. I collect them in my mental scrapbook and relish them when they break through the surface of my present.

“Fields of Gold” was playing on the jukebox. I had never paid much attention to it before, but this song about reminiscing fit the scene perfectly. Every time I hear it, I recall that evening. I can feel my right elbow on the bar and see my friend looking at something over my left shoulder. The years between now and then collapse like an accordion, and I can almost touch the past.

Recently, I learned that a close family member is very sick. Her life is going to change in a way so significant that it is an understatement to say that it will never be the same again. What’s ahead for her will be incredibly difficult and require physical, mental and emotional strength that is unparalleled by anything that has ever happened in my life.

During this time, my wish for her is that her mind plays the same tricks mine does on me. I hope that the snapshots stored from the past interrupt her day-to-day life, bringing bright spots that reward her courage and tenacity. I hope that she will be given the peace to savor them, so that she can build (and rebuild) her strength for the journey ahead. If it was a road trip, I’d make sure to include this one on the mix tape.