My mother died 7 days ago. It has been one week since I kissed the hollow in the nape of her neck, since I ran my lips against the downy hair on the back of her head. I have lived 165 hours without my mother, and I have not, for one minute, understood that she will not appear in our driveway in her big white car, that I will never again hear her voice talking on the phone in the laundry room.
The day after she died, my brother and I stood on the back of our family boat, as it rolled past green backyards with sprinklers and swimming pools. We passed swans along the way, and families of ducks. Herons stood on the wet, grassy patches that sprout from the bay. I saw my mother, sitting in her chair, laughing with glee as the salt water sprayed our faces. I saw my mother standing in the marshes, on the lawns, at the edge of the park she took us to as children, smiling, squinting and shading her eyes with one hand, waving at us with the other, happy that we were together.
I am going back there tonight. I will be with my brothers, I will drive her big white car and I will have lunch at our favorite place. My stepfather will hug me. I will fold her clothing, and wear her pajamas. I will look at the ants tumbling through the mountains of grass and not understand how they are allowed to be here, but she is not.
My mother and I shared 280,320 hours of life. It will take more than 165 hours to understand that she is gone, forever. She lived from April 9, 1954 until June 17, 2011 - 57 years, 2 months, 1 week, and 1 day and not a minute longer - but I am still waiting for her to come home. I will rub my eyes and hug her, she will tell me that she loves me and she is proud of me, and we will hold hands and know, together, that these 165 hours were all a bad dream.