Chris Cooper

When I was a kid and cut my finger or scrapped my knee climbing one of the many trees I had the pleasure getting to know, she quickly came to my side with an assuring voice telling me it was going to be okay. I believed her. Her approach was calming and her demeanor steadfast. I knew if she said it would be fine- smile on her face- it would be. Of course it took a little blowing on the iodine she'd spread on the wound and that reassurance repeated a few times before it would sink in to both my skin and brain.

When I became ill with strep throat or the mumps a doctors visit would send me into a panic knowing a shot was to follow. But she would remind me all the way there that I didn't know for sure what would happen and not put the cart before the horse.

Most of the time my fears would become reality, but by the time I was facing the nurse pulling down my back pocket for the shot, I wasn't as afraid anymore because isn't it after all the prelude that becomes more terrifying than the actual event?

When I had my own daughter and I faced being strong for her, she would remind me how important it was to keep a smile on your face when facing others' fear. I think it worked too as my daughter looks at me today like I still look at her.

Now that I have gotten older and my youth is mixed with the dust in the rear view mirror, I foresee the road ahead and I find myself panicking once again. This time for the same reasons involving the unknown which lurks in the shadows of my mind convincing me that the shot is going to happen regardless. Only when it comes this time she won't be able to help me.

Death is a certainty for us all. We cannot escape it. The worst ever imaginable will come to us as sure as a shot will follow strep throat. Losing those we love can't be cured with a smile or iodine brushed on the wound.

As a song comes on the radio while I'm driving to anywhere reminding me of her and our youth tears begin to fall for what is coming. I try to convince myself it's got to be my age. Or perhaps it's hormones. After all, I will turn 52 this year.

I am over emotional. Don't borrow tomorrow's worries. You're being silly. None of these self-convincing methods consoles me as I listen to the John Denver song playing at her funeral in my mind.

When it does happen someday, she won't be able to help me this time. This is a reality. I will have to put on that smile she taught me so long ago and tell myself it's not as bad as we all believe it to be.

I'll be on my own one day to face what will be left of my life to live without my mom and her smiling face to assure me not to put the cart before the horse. Something tells me that time around I won't believe it.