Sunday, May 13, 2018

the first of many mothers days without mothers

Sometimes, the past 6 months or so seems unreal.  Sort of like that season of Supernatural where Sam's memories of all that time in the cage with Lucifer in hell was placed behind a wall by Cas so that it wouldn't make him mad. Sort of like something that you know is there, but just aren't really quite yet able to mentally deal with.  These months have been a lot like that--sometimes there's a hole in the wall or a crack and I shore it up again and hope for the best. I have this fear that it will all come rushing down and bury me entirely.  There will be moments when it occurs to me that, yes, in fact, your mother is really dead. There will be times I'm not even thinking about it and it occurs to me midday, like something I've forgotten is a fact.

Maybe it's both a blessing and a curse that I live quite a distance away, and that most of my hardest times will always be when visiting there, and very rarely here, where, besides our two weekly phone calls, she wasn't as much a part of my daily experience.  That, if not for those cracks in the wall, she could just as easily be alive for all I know, and just doing her usual thing.  I cannot even imagine being quite as calm were I living in the same house, or even the same town. I can't even imagine the sort of grief my father deals with on a daily basis, the lonelinesss  amid his weekly phone talk of getting the gardens ready, cleaning the house, cooking his own meals. I can't imagine what's in my sister's head, as well, being a little closer to home.  Sometimes the pain is like running a knife across your palm, but sometimes it's just a dull toothache.

I mostly deal with uncomfortable things by ignoring them until they go away, and sometimes they do, but obviously, that won't work in this situation.  Winter made it worse, of course, her death in early November followed by a rather horrible brutal weather that has only eased up the last couple of weeks. All along there have been the weird dreams about her being alive and not realizing, even herself, that she was gone. Last Mother's Day, of course, she was still alive, and though in some pain from the allergic reaction, not yet in as dire circumstances as she'd later be. I wasn't able to be there (the semester usually ending right about Mother's Day and sometimes having to work meant we were not always in the same place.) I usually spent a bit of time in the spring and summer there, anyway, so it wasn't that crucial, but then it will probably always seem like it was never enough.

I am always a little haunted by the last words I heard her say--the Sunday phone call with my Dad and when he asked if she wanted to talk to me, and she never did in those months, talk to anyone on the phone--and she said, weakly and really out of it-- "Tell her I'll call her tomorrow.."   By Monday afternoon, she was gone.  But it wasn't until it actually happened that it seemed possible--I was certain she would pull through it, that she'd eventually be able to leave the bed, and if not walk b/c of the injury, at least be somewhat mobile again with a chair.  I mean, how could she NOT be okay?  I always am conscious of it, but pathologically assume the best, so the worst occasionally slaps the fuck out of me. There was so much there that went into it--the earlier heart attack, the allergy that left her unable to comfortably walk, the loss of my aunt in June, the wound on her foot, the infection that settled into her system by the end of summer.  Like a row of unfortunate dominoes falling one after the other, proving that it is not the grand, dramatic things that will take us all out, but the tiny ones.

But then, perhaps, today shouldn't be a dirge at all--but more a celebration of mothers.  I am obviously not one--and probably have not a motherly bone in my entire body. (Unlike a lot of others, have never really seen pets as furbabies--more like occasionally rude or affectionate roommates that wreck your   But I did recently finish my own sort of baby, the new manuscript, which includes the hunger palace series about my mother and the imaginary daughter poems.  I will be sending it out in the world later this month, awkward and leggy like a newly born colt. As for today,  I intend to spend it cleaning most likely, my apartment that looks like a tornado hit it this week, and maybe listening to her favorites again--Barry Manilow, Air Supply, the things she would put on the turntable while she cleaned the house every Saturday. I don't necessarily believe in the afterlife, but if there is one, she would no doubt approve.

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