(Photograph by Katherine Frey)

Lynn Medford
59, Edgewater, editor, WP Magazine

It took days for Mother to die after the doctors said it was imminent and I made the middle-of-the-night call to summon my brother to her bedside. And when her last agonized breath had been drawn, when the counted-on relief at the end of her long struggle didn’t come, when I thought I could not bear her leaving, I took a lock of her hair to hold onto forever. For until that moment I believed in forever.

Eight years later, sometimes when I’m dusting, I steal a glimpse inside the tiny jar and go back. It’s always the same: first, to the last years. I’m washing her hair, her gray head bent over the kitchen sink, my fingers working, sometimes with love, too many times with impatience. I ache with guilt, with sorrow, with longing.

Then it’s earlier, and I hear her laugh, that girlish giggle, hand over mouth, even in her 60s. I see her hazel eyes glisten. I smell her skin. When our lives pass before our eyes in death, is the last memory the scent of our mothers’ skin?

Then it’s even earlier. I hear her in the distance calling my name from the back door. I am lying in a field of Queen Anne’s lace and goldenrod and alfalfa, looking up at the blue sky, naming clouds and dreaming of all the love before me.

Tell us about what you treasure and why: E-mail 200 words or fewer to wpmagazine@washpost.com. Please use “MINE” in the subject line, and include age, city and job.

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