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The Greatest Pyramid


Two years before my mother passed away, before we knew she was sick, I had an inexplicable desire to go on a trip with her. When I asked her if she wanted to go, she didn’t hesitate. She didn’t contemplate the finances or the risks, she just said yes. She and I had our ups and downs over the years but in an upswing we were two peas in a pod. There was no debate about where we wanted to go, Italy and Egypt. Bucket list stuff, the trip of a lifetime, a real mother-daughter experience; and it was The Great Pyramid, more than anywhere, that left a lasting impression. My mother and I developed a love-hate relationship with Egypt. We hated the dodgy speed bumps at every turn, but loved that they were made by families to protect their children; we loved the adorable, hard-working donkeys trotting down every road, but hated the noise they made at 4 am; we loved the white-toothed smiles and friendly hollers, but hated the subsequent onslaught of souvenirs; we loved the dry heat, but hated the hot sandy wind that scratched our cameras and infiltrated our luggage; and we hated that there was no alcohol, but loved hibiscus tea. One of the first places we visited in Egypt were the Pyramids at Giza. As we were visiting in a time when political turmoil was keeping travelers away, the grounds were all but empty. Our friends and family had begged us not to go, but I felt an urgency that I couldn’t explain at the time. As we walked awestruck toward the golden monoliths, I saw a tear drip out from under my mother’s sunglasses and run down her cheek. “I wish I had your Nana’s glasses.” She said. “It was always her dream to come here, and it would have been wonderful to see through her eyes. I just can’t believe I’m really here.” She smiled tearfully and touched the worn limestone, still perfectly aligned, at the base of the Great Pyramid. I hugged her hard, the wind intertwining our hair, and I felt a small pang of sadness for my mother, who missed her mother daily and spoke of her often. The Universe aligned for us to take that trip together. The inexplicable desire, the sense of urgency, and the unwavering certainty all made sense at the end of my mother’s life. When I think about the Pyramids now, I imagine my Nana and my mother sitting high up the side of the Great Pyramid where you’re not allowed to go, silk scarves softly blowing, sunglasses on, martinis in hand, looking out at the twinkling sprawl of Cairo. They are at peace, and so am I.

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