|2:00 am and I think of that song from Anna Nalick, but it’s not about songs and singing, it’s about telephone calls and days before telephone calls and Mom is dead at last, long live the memory of 2:00 am telephone calls because she’s not the queen and there is no blood is thicker than water heir apparent.
2:01 and Audrey is asking if I want to come over before the vehicle arrives to pick up what’s left of my mother – our mother – and I say no because I don’t want to see Mom like that. My imagination is enough for these things.
2:03 and I’ve hung up and I’ve let my sister down for the first time, but not. I was supposed to be there, watching over Mom as she slept, I was supposed to be in the oversized recliner waiting to hear if she stopped breathing. And she did. And I wasn’t.
2:05 and I climb into my husband’s arms and I lie my head on his heart and his arm comes around me, like it always does. I tell him my mom died, and he says he’s sorry, and I cry. But it’s a different kind of crying, unlike when I found out she was sick, unlike when she said that the chemo wasn’t working, when she said she was beginning hospice care. Early morning late night middle of sleep expecting the call tears are tears that are piteously sparse and uneven.
2:10 and I am back asleep, dreaming of a mother who was alive and playing the piano, alive and cooking dinner, alive and decorating her condominium, alive and just alive. Breathing.
11:00 am and I’m driving to a reunion for my father’s family. It was prearranged and there is nothing else to do but feel absence and sadness and loss, so we go and see and be around people who once knew us and once loved us. People we haven’t seen in many years. People I never thought to see again. People.
11:14 and if any more people tell me how wonderful my mother was or how sorry they are for her death, I might scream. Not because they are wrong, but because she was wonderful at times, and her death is a vast empty spot in the center of my body, her death is a useless keyhole empty of key and I am locked out numb. The days to come will be pain ridden hard ramming tear stained things, so I want to stay here in the not-unpleasant numbness of this day.
11:23 and I meet my brother for the first and possibly only time in my life. I have known about him for so long that I don’t remember when the knowledge came to me, my father’s byblow semi-bastard, because his mother and my father were both married when he came into the world – just not to each other. I wish he was dead in place of my mother, even though I don’t know him and he’s as much blood to me as Mom was. Death is thicker than blood.
11:55 and I laugh. Then I feel like shit. I should not be allowed to laugh today.
5:00 and we are home, watching the news, watching the sorrows of other people. I have been called and answered calls and been fine and been thankful for the calling and been annoyed that people don’t seem to understand that my art of grief is quiet. Internal. My art of grief is mulling in my head and feeling useless. I want to mull in peace. I want to mull alone.
8:00 and I still sit in front of a television, watching what other people watch because my body doesn’t want to move, doesn’t want to eat dinner or walk or speak. If my eyes can stay focused on the screen the width of my living room away from me, then I am occupied and everyone should leave me be.
8:01 and I notice my husband and my daughters tiptoeing around my perimeter. My goal of alone has been reached.
8:02 and I wish someone would break through my quiet and talk to me.
8:03 and I wish someone would push their face into my face and say something. Force me to say whatever words I need to speak to move away from this day. This is one day, it is Day One, and the days to follow are ominous. Today is spent and useless. I am spent and useless.
11:30 and I go to bed. Pull the down comforter over my head in another attempt to hide away from what has finally happened. Hide from my mother’s ghost world where I will be stuck from this day on, not by choice but by circumstance.
11:35 and thoughts of my mother draw long lines into my face. Worries. Wants.
11:48 and I realize for the first time since 2:00 am that I will now always be a member of the Dead Mothers Club.
11:59 pm and I cry. Not for the first time this day, this Day One, but the first real tears. Heavy sobbing aching troubled tears that follow the path of my face to land in my ears and the hollow of my throat and the lines of my neck. Horrible ugly pain wrought tears that will not stop. My stomach clenches and I cry. My body curls and I cry. My legs pull up into my chest and I cry. My hands wipe at the water I am creating but they make no headway. Tears are thicker than death.