Not a single spring has passed

for the last fifteen years

that has not found me creating strawberry jam

just like I saw my mother make.

Always in the same too-large bowl in which my mother used to make her strawberry jam.

And this year,

as well as the past three years,

I cannot help but be reminded of my mother.

It’s inevitable.

First, there’s the bowl.

And the act of jam-making by itself.

The jam may taste sugary sweet sweet sweet

but the experience is always more of the bittersweet variety.

I don’t know how to live it any other way.

When I stir in that powdery sure-jell from the yellow box that even time seems to never change,

I cannot help myself.

I just keep thinking,

this is not how it is supposed to be.

If life was fair, I tell myself, I would not be pouring this bright red deliciousness into jars alone.

I’d be laughing with my mom as she sat across from me at the kitchen counter.

She’d be marveling at what a capable berry slicer London Scout how grown to be.

We’d be counting jars as we filled them full

and sharing in that glorious simple feeling of work well-done.

Food crafted by your own hands to satisfy your own family’s hunger.

We would divvy up the spoils of our labor and admire their bright scarlet beauty.

If life was fair.

I have to laugh at my own thoughts, of course.

I know I don’t actually want “fair” – whatever that really means.

But I do want my mom.


in real time,

sharing the moments that make up a regular life.

I want us to live the mundane

and laugh at the marvelous together.

It’s too early for me to be the family’s only Memory Holder.