Written in the Austrian Alps. Spring of 2010.
“When I die, I will be very sad to leave you. But, know that I will be alright.”
She said looking out the window at the country side that passed by us quickly. The golden light of the day caught in her hair, and her blue eyes, and she looked suddenly quite young. There was nothing dark in the words she had spoken. Nothing foreboding in the future she told. Only what was true.
I sat opposite her, and suddenly, I wished I sat beside her. But, I could not move, so holy a picture she presented me with, I felt I would have disturbed it to stir.
“Someday I will die you know, but you will be alright. ” She looked at me, and a shadow passed over her face. I had never seen her look more lovely.
The train rocked, and yet somehow, she was still. I will ever hold it in my memory. The look of peace, and wisdom that settled on her face. Her face so familiar to me, taken by an unearthly glow that I had never seen. My heart ached to think of such things. I hated to know the suddenness and constancy of change in this life. It seemed to me that nothing so good as a mother could ever pass away. Nothing so sure as her love could ever become intangible. I wanted a way to tell her it was not true, but there was truth in every breath she took, in every word she spoke.
I anxiously shifted my toes inside my shoes, and looked out my the window to the green fields.
Oh, why didn’t they stop moving? I could only for a moment capture in my mind the hints of beauty that passed by me so quickly. The golden flowers. The grand and sweeping mountains. The housewife in her garden. In ethereal watercolor and smudged pastel it passed away. Oh, why wouldn’t it slow down?
With every disappearing landscape, and every stop, a feeling of insatiable urgency settled around my mind. Soon, I would have to get off. I would have to leave the movement, beauty and wonder of the magnificent train ride.
“We’re almost there, honey. Get your bag.”
I gathered my things in a delirious rush. The train slowed down. Momma opened the compartment and stepped out. And, I, with sadness in my heart followed her. Time seemed to creep as we walked down the narrow train car. The train stopped.
The train heaved a great mechanical sigh and the doors opened to the platform. I could see a suspicion of green from behind the grey station. Momma climbed carefully down the train steps, and turned to the right; she was hidden from my sight. I hesitated a moment, and then all in a breath, I found myself treading on solid ground. Behind me, the doors shut. The whistle blew. The tracks screamed. And I felt the wind pass behind me, and toss hair into my eyes as the train passed away into tiperary. It was gone. I would never again ride on that train. I would never again see the fleeting beauty. The impression of reality. It had died in my mind. I turned, and then, I saw the truth. The solid vast country side, reaching beyond my gaze. The real beauty, the honest truth.
“Ah, we’ve finally arrived.” Sighed my momma. I finally understood.