Los Angeles, 1943
He had not slept in years, yet this waking vision seemed like a dream. A dream so real he could smell the white and purple alyssum that grew in the cracks between the sidewalk slabs that made up the entrance to the cathedral of St. Vibiana’s.
Mass would begin soon. The families waited patiently for the others in front of them to find their way into the church. As always, forward movement slowed as people dipped fingers into basins of holy water and crossed themselves before walking down the aisles to find a seat.
Men on the doorstep were removing their hats, women adjusting their scarves or mantillas. A little apart from the others, his mother reached up to the black lace covering her head and pulled it back a little.
If he had been other than he was, his heart would have felt joy at the sight of her. She was so small and yet he knew her to be strong. Her suit was slightly out of style, but well-made and cared for. She held her bag and her rosary in one hand as she pulled off the glove on the other, using a thumb and forefinger. She smiled a little, nodding at the other worshippers, and folded herself in with the crowd to enter. Just at the doorway, she paused as though she had heard something.
He wanted her to turn her head so he could see her dark eyes and perhaps feel something. Perhaps she was thinking of him. Perhaps she was looking for him. And if she was, what would he feel?
But she did not turn her head. She walked into the cathedral without further hesitation and he was left with less than a wish that he might have remembered how he loved her.