This morning, I took the van to get the oil changed for the first time since right after Hudson died, when Ed took it in before we drove to North Carolina for the memorial service there. I had an appointment but still had to wait almost an hour and a half. In the meantime, there was a little boy there in the waiting room, sitting with what looked like his grandma. He was probably about two and a half or three years old, with tight curls all over his head and big brown eyes. He was squirmy and didn’t want to stay in his chair, and every time he got up, his grandma told him to sit back down. I tried not to watch as she gave him a fruit bar, as he sucked down whatever liquid was in his sippy cup, as he crawled all over his grandma, sometimes sitting straddled in her lap with his head on her chest. He babbled a fair bit and either I didn’t understand what he was saying or just wasn’t paying attention enough to hear the details of what he was saying.
Until, out of nowhere, I looked over and he held his hands in the air and said, “Up!” and then put them down and said, “Down!” I wasn’t sure I’d heard right, so I watched him for a minute, only to see him repeat the motion and the words again. I managed not to cry and actually felt a smile rising to my face, as I remembered this very same, very precious gesture by my little Hudson on many, many occasions. She’d say, “Up!” (hands in the air). Then, “Down!” (hands to the ground). She’d repeat it again and again, so delighted with her skills. “Hudson, which way is up?” (points to the sky and smiles). “Which way is down?” (points to the ground). Even though I have no idea what I believe about what comes next, I smiled to myself, thinking maybe Hudson was stopping in to say hello, there in the Midas waiting room, after her mama’s really crappy week. Then I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and held back the tears.
Later, as I picked up a few last-minute things to make dinner, I realized I was about to make chicken quesadillas for the first time since Hudson died. These were a staple around our house when Hudson was with us, and always made the perfect leftovers to send for her lunch. As I was cutting up the rotisserie chicken to put inside the quesadillas, I was consciously thinking I didn’t need to cut it into such small pieces as I used to, but I was subconsciously doing it anyway. I looked down and realized I’d cut the whole chicken breast into Hudson-sized pieces in spite of myself.
I was feeling quiet and sad as I made dinner, wishing I could remember the time I’d last made quesadillas for her. I did it so often. I thought about turning on the iPod for some company, then rejected the idea. It had been a long time since I’d put music on while making dinner—it was just too much like all the evenings she and I spent together after school, listening to music, me making dinner while she played around in the kitchen and playroom. But finally I decided I’d try it, thinking maybe, just maybe, it would feel OK. I turned the iPod on and couldn’t believe it when the first song on the shuffle was Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” one of mine and Hudson’s favorite songs to dance and sing to together. A few songs later and up came “Seasons of Love,” from Rent, one of Hudson’s all-time favorites. Every time it came on in the car, on the CD we’d made for her 1st birthday party favor, I had to prepare myself to listen to it over and over again, because as soon as it ended, she’d say “Mo? Mo?” and I could see her in the car seat mirror making the sign for “More!” If I even tried to let the CD go on to the next song, she’d start to complain. So I just set the CD player on “repeat,” figuring there were much worse songs to have to listen to many times in a row. It was the theme of her memorial services, and the last song in the slideshow.
I said to Ed, “Wow. Hudson’s just talking to me today.”
As “Seasons of Love” wound down, Ed came up behind me at the stove and wrapped his arms around my waist, laying his head on my shoulder. The song ended. I was already crying. I said, “Mo? Mo?” If only I could have more.