It was another beautiful morning. Walking into the kitchen Stacy grabbed the kettle from the counter-top and filled it with water. The sound of running water filled her ears while tilting her head back and letting out a sigh. Turning off the water she sat the kettle back on its post, allowing it to heat. Opening up the cabinet she looked at the many options to choose. There was a lot of tea. It was something her mother loved. Selecting one, she placed the packet on the counter. It would take a couple more minutes for the water to be ready. Walking across the kitchen she opened another cabinet. Grabbing two teacups and saucers she placed them on the counter. Leaning onto the counter she paused. A memory came to the forefront of her mind.
A small child running freely outside. Long brown hair flowing behind as she ran and leapt into the air. She landed in a large pile of leaves giggling loudly. Right behind her were two similarly looking women. Both leaping into the air and falling in the pile of leaves squealing. All three of them laughed and played together. The two women tossed the small girl up and caught her. They threw leaves about and into the air letting it shower down. Once they were all tired out they lay on the pile. Each one looking up into the sky.
The scene began to blur into the present as her eyes started to well up. Tear droplets escaped and slowly slid down her cheek. A small hand curled up in the bottom of her shirt, she smiled. “Good Morning Sarah,” Stacy said looking down. The little girl’s round face was already turned towards her. “Morning mommy. Don’t forget grandma’s cup,” Sarah responded. Looking back in the cabinet Stacy located the tea cup and placed it on the counter. Sarah ran her little fingers on the outside of the cup slowly, neither of them said anything until the kettle whistled softly.
Sarah grabbed two of the cups and walked over to the table. Stacy grabbed the last one and followed. Placing the cup on the table she then wrapped Sarah up into her arms. A light squeal escaped her from being surprised. She flipped around and hugged Stacy’s neck. They walked over to the tea cabinet. “Which tea do you want?” she asked the little girl. Sarah searched all the tea in front of her. “Grandma sure does have a lot of tea,” Sarah said with a sigh. Stacy looked at all the many options in the cabinet. Her mother did really enjoy tea. No matter where they went she would purchase packets of tea. Herbal tea, flavored tea, natural tea, loose leaf tea, etc. The sight was beautiful and painful. Stacy plucked two of her mother’s favorites and placed them into Sarah’s little hand. “This one has a peach flavor you will like, the other was grandma’s favorite,” she said calmly.
Closing the cabinet and grabbing the kettle they walked back to the table to sit down. Pouring the hot water in each cup the steam rose silently. It was tradition to let the steam rise before placing the tea in the cup. And sticking to tradition both Stacy and Sarah watched the steam then opened the packets of tea placing the bag in each cup. Sarah placed her arms on the table and watched the cup. ‘Oh!” she exclaimed. “We forgot the cream.” Getting up from the table she went to the fridge and brought back the homemade cream. Her bright eyes looked up into Stacy’s. They both looked…distant.
It was interesting to see her daughter mirroring the same expression. They both knew what was happening. Well, what had happened already. But they were still in disbelief that she was gone. She was no longer with us. The thought jarred Stacy back to reality. She faltered and lowered her face. “I think it’s ready mommy. Let’s go outside,” Sarah said, interrupting Stacy’s thoughts. Picking up all three cups Stacy started towards the patio door in the kitchen.
The cool breeze of autumn brushed their skin. The color leaves fell all around them. It was beautiful, breath-taking actually. Looking around at the scenery Stacy started tearing up again. The tears slowly fell down each cheek as they walked to their favorite tea spot. The small round table sitting with three chairs under the big tree in the shade. A small pile of leaves was starting to gather on the left side. Stacy stopped to look.
This was exactly how she remembered it. The leaves fall all around them, bringing tea to the same spot. The beautiful brown, red, and yellow colors blur together as they sit outside. Breathing in the fresh air of fall.
That was all she would be able to take. Her legs felt stuck, planted, rather rooted in the same place. Moving forward meant the present was…true. She didn’t want the truth. Nothing about the truth was good. It meant they would have to have tea without…her. Fresh tears sprang forward but before she could completely let them out. A small hand curled into the bottom of her shirt, yet again, distracting her from the sadness. “We can do it mommy. Grandma is waiting,” Sarah said quietly, pulling her forward.
Reaching their destination Stacy placed the cups down. Taking a deep breath she took a seat and looked across the table. Sarah sat down as well and looked to her left. It was not where Stacy wanted to look, not yet. Turning her head slightly, she caught a glimpse of the empty seat before hearing… “I think grandma is sharing her tea with God,” Sarah said nonchalantly. She hadn’t turned to look at her mother. Instead she was staring at the tombstone a little ways away. It read, Charlotte 'Teacup' Wilson; Loving mother, friend and true advocate of tea. Sarah turned to face her mother and smiled. “I am not sure if God is a tea drinker,” she finished, grabbing her cup and sipping some of the tea. At that Stacy burst into laughter. And without thinking smiled and turned towards the empty chair. The flowers surrounding the grave-site shimmering into focus as tears spilled from her eyes. Sarah turned to look at Stacy as her laughter calmed. “I am sure she can make a believer out of Him,” Stacy responded leaning back and looking up to the sky. They both giggled at that thought.