Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Last week, when I went to Sherman Oaks to get my hair done, I remembered why I drive so far every few weeks to get my hair (ahem) "back to natural."  My hairstylist, a very pleasant older woman, reminds me very much of Rafael's aunt: caring, nurturing, feeding.  She is impeccably on time and there is never any drama.  When I arrive, she is ready for me and we share a few pleasantries, then it is quiet enough for me to read my book or magazine, and my hair is perfectly colored, trimmed and blown out in an hour.  Plus, she's next door to Starbucks.  All told, it's a delightful experience each and every time.

And so last week, as I waited for my roots to return to a color better than gray, Parvan quietly handed me a cup full of mulberries.  "Just like last year," she said.  "They're back in season."

I took the first bite and I remembered them, all too well.  Last year, I had called her in a panic to please do my hair before Max's funeral.  I didn't know her, but she was conveniently located and highly recommended by a friend.  Grieving, I just went with it, called her, set up an appointment.

While my hair processed, I answered sympathy texts and listened to sad voicemails, but I could hardly talk.  Mostly, I just cried.  Quietly, Parvan came over, humbly offering me a plate of juicy red and purple mulberries from a tree in her yard. I remember that I had to wear sunglasses because my face was so flushed and tear-stained.  "I've never had them," I said, sniffling.  "Are they good?"

She shrugged sweetly.  "Try them," she said, nudging the plate at me.  

Mulberries have small berries along a 3- or 4-inch stem, and they are sweet without being too tart.  Almost like a cross between a sweet red grape and a blueberry, but not as juicy.  I devoured them, even as tears pooled over the plate. I'd sob, and eat another, then sob some more, then eat another.  Even I knew there was nothing more to do.  Just go with it.  Be with this moment.  It will pass.

And somehow a year has passed.  I only know because Parvan's mulberries are back in season and now Max's grave has a headstone.  I find it interesting that my grief has a taste, but it does.


  1. This just gave me goosebumps. Beautifully, movingly written, Erin. My heart goes out to you and your family.