My mother used to have wisps of silver in her hair. They stood out against the rich dark brown that crowned the rest of her head; they slowly mixed in, as more and more of them came to the surface, showing her age and her smile. I saw our Sunday mornings from my childhood in her hair, as she started to let me tousle it, sitting on the arm of the chair behind and beside her as she watched the news.
She used to run her hands through my hair when I was little, doing her best to keep my sticky fingers out of hers. Now it was me, with close-shorn pseudo-locks, and her with almost shoulder-length curling tresses, and me trying to slide my hands through their light and shine, mixing the strands, looking to pull the light through her scalp and make it glow.
Stirring and swirling through time.
My mom always used put a little bit of milk in the oatmeal when she was done cooking it, to cool it and to sweeten it. This was back when she would make us breakfast when I was little. She never stirred it up the way that I did, making it so that everything was the same, until you couldn't even see the wisps of white amidst the grain. She let it sit on top, and dipped it onto her spoon as she scooped her way down.
I wonder sometimes if it is milk in her hair, full of sweetness, cooling down her fire with the passage of time and years. I wonder if the disparate locks, standing out in their difference were more rich than the uniform white that it has slowly become. I think sometimes that I might stirred the time too far, until there was nothing left to rise up to the surface.
I think sometimes that there is nothing left that my mother has to teach me -- that it is me who has something to show her about life and the choices she has made. They are choices I don't need to make again. I think that maybe I can make a better end.
And then I watch her.
(I wonder what her hair must feel like just after she's washed it. I think it would smell like lilacs and chamomile and honey. I think it would smell like time -- bittersweet, full of sorrow, full of love.)