My mother is there as I iron the napkins and place the glasses and adjust the silverware. Despite her passing twenty-five years ago now, I hear her voice gently asking, “Would you set the table, honey, you do such a beautiful job?” So I set the table for her still. And in the doing of it, I extend her love for me to my friends now whom she has never met. But they know her through this table they love, in the friend they love. I carry on her care. It is here in this kitchen, where she has never been, that I feel her closest to me. And its these times in the kitchen, precisely when she feels so present, that I suddenly find that the celery is blurry from my tears.
I feel so grateful that my mom taught me about preparing the table for guests, about setting chairs as one sets the intention for a good visit, about decorating to create a beautiful space for love, about serving love while serving food. I am so grateful for these gifts and the friends who have continued to share the table with me —friends here and those never far away.