22 November 2011

I seek to know who I am without my mother in this world. I seek to know where my words go, the words that used to go to her. I seek to know what becomes of a daughter of a dead mother, who feels hopeless, alone, unmoored, unloved, uncared for. I do for her, but that is not always enough. What of me, who am I, where is my family, who do I belong to?

The streets are empty, the children have gone home. I have no home. There is my apartment, there is our house that she died in, but where is my home in this world? When she was in the hospital, for the second to last time, on a night my brother and I saw her go into septic shock and shouted for nurses, doctors, anyone, she was dying and she was not ready and it was terrifying and I held her hand and she asked me why I was crying, my stepfather said, "My home is where she is."

Oh, Mom, the things I didn't know. Where is my home without you, Mom? Who am I without you, Mom? Where has my childhood gone? Where are the memories of 32 years? Who will tell my children what I was like as a child? Remember when Marc and I set out to catch butterflies with a bucket of water and a net? "Did we mean to drown them?" you wanted to know. I don't know the answer, but without you, there is no one to ask the question. Mom, my children will not know the sound of your voice and it's ups and downs, the punctuations, the funny inflections (Coral became Caarrrl, please, oh please, don't let your voice slip from my ears). On our camera, there is one video of you telling a story, 2 weeks before you died about Michael being bad when he was small. I press it against my ear, like a seashell. I want to hear the sea. I want the sound of your voice. I want you. Oh, Mom, Mom, Mom, my girl. I am drowning, quietly, alone, in the small 5'1" space where you used to be.

Mom, I was afraid, that night when you came to me, but last week, I was drying my hair and a breeze passed over my shoulder and I was dizzy and the apartment spun and the light caught the butterfly in the frame that we bought in Paris and the pale pink wings shone blue. The apartment was still. I was not alone. Magic was with me and the air shook. Do it again, Mom. I don't want to be alone.

17 November 2011

If the trees stayed green all winterlong the hope that the bare branches would bloom again would be gone. We need that hope, I know we need that hope, but I cannot find that hope. We have chosen our mother's headstone. I must sign the paperwork and approve. I do not approve. We wait a year to mark the grave. I need a year. The loneliness is worse than ever and I miss her more than any metaphor can amplify.

The air smells like cold and fires are burning. When we sell our house with the fireplace next to the couches (my grandmother Hannah Daisy's tweed couches - lilac, violet, periwinkle, her colors, her sister Muriel Iris was a turquoise) we laid on for those last months, my last fireplace is gone. Card games are gone (I didn't play them with her, but with my grandmothers, also gone) - Gin Rummy, War, Go Fish. I could still play solitaire, only I can't remember how. This is the time of the magic of hearths and home. When the crackle is gone, along with your mother who really did roast chestnuts, you are all you have left.

I don't want to find some beautiful pearl, a shining rope to cling to. I am all that I've got, and all that I've got is so very angry. I do not want to be told it will get better, I will get better. Do not tell me that. I will mourn my mother for the rest of my days, whether you see it or not. So, off I go, on my own. I am not afraid. Wherever I go, my mother is waiting for me.

I never wanted to go away, and the hard part now is the leaving you all. I’m not afraid, but it seems as if I should be homesick for you even in heaven. -Little Women