Early last Saturday morning on my weekly trip to Trader Joe’s, I paused a moment in the floral department, and my eyes settled in on a lovely pot of fall chrysanthemums. The small plant I noticed first was just one of dozens of potted flowers and fresh-cut arrangements, many of which commanded far more attention than the demure and jewel-toned flowers on which I had fixed my gaze. The deep maroon petals and contrasting yellow centers were smiling brightly at me; and there in the floral department, I smiled back at them.
I had awaken that morning feeling a little more sad and a lot more empty than usual, and the short drive on a deserted I-64 stretch of highway to the suburban shopping center had made me weepy. But there I was, standing among those flowers, smiling, my spirit lifted in one beat of my heart. Mack was in that little pot of flowers that were, like her, reserved on the outside and vibrant in the middle. Mack was there in the store, daring me to smile away my gloomy demeanor and begging me to welcome the simple joys of a Saturday.
Because my Mack is everywhere.
Mack’s freckled face is in the clouds. Mack’s impish giggle floats upon the wind. And Mack’s happy, carefree spirit is an essential element of the air I breathe. She wanders around in my mind, always in t-shirts and over-sized basketball shorts. She sits upon my shoulder when I prepare her favorite foods or as I cheer for our Cardinals to beat the Cubs. And she sings those infectious yet saccharin Taylor Swift songs in my ear whenever a dreadful silence threatens to overcome me. Mack was on Cherokee Street when an empty Funyuns bag blew across my path as I walked between antique shops one Sunday afternoon. She was at the intersection of Gravois and MacKenzie roads as I waited for that interminable traffic light to turn green just a couple of weeks ago. And she was in those chrysanthemums last Saturday, one of my bad days, when the simple task of grocery shopping challenged my shaky resolve.
I am not a religious person, nor am I spiritual in any way. Wish that I did, but I do not believe that Mack is watching over me from some heavenly plane. Yet I have come to consider my Mack “sightings” as real and essential and true. Real because they happen daily. Essential because they have strength to catch me when I falter. And true because they perfectly reflect what Mack was to me in life and must continue to be for all of the days I must live without her.
Mack is alive in my memories. Mack is ever in my mind’s eye. Mack is in my heart, in my soul, and in the world around me. Mack is everywhere.
And who wouldn’t want to see that face in the clouds?