Funny how a magazine, a photograph, some words, a story — even someone else’s story — can sideswipe you in the best possible way.  It happened to me this afternoon.

It started with a blog post over at Macdougal Street Baby which I read admire everyday.  Thank you, MSB, I loved reading about your mother and that letter.  My god, that letter.

Then I picked up the mail and there was The New Yorker, like it is most Fridays, hidden amidst the stack of otherwise useless catalogues.  On the cover, 2 pairs of shoes.  I thought instantly:  My shoes and my mother’s shoes.

That’s how my mind is working this week / last week / dear god next week, because next week my mother will be dead 9 years and it’s all I can think about.  I’ve been flipping through old photos of places we lived while I was growing up, and I keep going back to this one.  It wasn’t quite this dilapidated when Mom and I lived here 30+ years ago, but close.  I remember the white, peeling paint.  The close trees.  The broken down porch we couldn’t sit on because it was falling down.  We lived here 2 years (which was a long time for us) while I was in 7th and 8th grades.  It was the last place we would live by ourselves, the last place where it was just the 2 of us.  The next thing I knew Mom got married, I became a teenager and started high school, and that was that.  She with her new life, me with mine.

Now I can’t stop looking at this picture.

The New Yorker sideswipe doesn’t end with those 2 pairs of shoes. That would be too easy.  Meghan O’Rourke has a heartbreaking story about her mother’s death on page 32.  I couldn’t have found this story at a more perfect time.  Thank you, Meghan.