I spent the day enjoying congratulations for the win at Saturday’s tournament, with memories of my mother interceding at intervals. Much to my amazement, there hasn’t been a single moment of anger or sadness over the inability to call and share the good news with her. I didn’t even have to fight off daydreams, while in Fort Lauderdale, of having her drive down I-95 to actually watch me compete. I just had one wave of nostalgia for the family vacations that used to be. I felt it Friday on the long drive from the airport to the hotel, while passing one pastel-colored cement building after another and feeling a hazy humidity only rivaled in my experience by Houston and New Orleans.
There’s a distinct feel to being in Florida for me. An aura of warmth, peace and pleasure that comes complete with a flood of almost exclusively happy memories – years of Easters, summer weeks and Christmases filled with watching my mother and formerly small children have fun together.
“I just realized that I didn’t give any thought to how it would feel to be back in Florida,” I told my better half on the phone, once I reached the hotel.
“I know.” There was a hint of surprise in her voice.
I had a quick cry then for what was and for all that’s happened in our lives that Mom hasn’t been here to see. And that was that. On to the competition the next morning.
It’s been more than six years since my mother’s death. Before this tournament weekend, it had been more than six years since my last trip to Florida. I’d wanted to go back, to revisit the places I’d enjoyed with Mom and my children and make new memories. But at the same time, I hadn’t been able to imagine setting foot in the state again without being able to see her.
It took kung fu to get me back in the state. I didn’t even think twice about the venue when planning to go.
Though a mental health professional would probably have a field day with these facts, something about it all seems right. Something about it feels like the powers of the universe doing for me what I could not do for myself.