01 December 2011

Where are we going? Tomorrow night, I am going to my mother's childhood temple to be with my uncles as a plaque is raised, bearing her name and the date of her death. One night, a few nights ago, I dreamed of my mother, dying, over and over again I heard her last breath, and in my dream I fought with those I felt took away our time together, instead of fighting with myself for the time I didn't spend with her. When we brought her home from the hospital the last time, I made plans to take her to lunch. We never went. I am imperfect. My mistakes keep me awake at night. There are so many mistakes, and no one knows them better and more intimately than I do. I long to undo them, but I cannot.

This morning I bathed, I drank coffee, I put on my newly tailored black lace pants, I fed the cat. I got in the car, and stopped still a block from our house: in front of my car, in the intersection, a man was lying face down. He had been hit, the driver left the scene, traffic was stopped, two men kneeled next to him. He was dead, I think. There was no blood, he was old. Where was he going? Police officers arrived on foot, someone crossed the street, picked up his hat and his shoe (they had taken flight, the man was dispossessed of his hat, his shoe, his life) and returned them to their dead owner. I pulled my car over, turned it off, and sat. And then I walked to work.

I think of the man who drove away after he killed someone this morning. He drove away from his mistake, he drove towards his mistake, and it will ruin his life.

M. told me today that she read the toast she gave at her sister's wedding last weekend. She toasted her sister and talked about their brother, dead 13 years. She was nervous to speak about her brother. She has lived half of her life without him, and with fine-tuned antennae, grown since girlhood, she has learned what I stubbornly have not: people do not know what to say. She reminded me that if they did, it might be because they understand, and no one should understand. I say gently, though: live life, love, and the understanding is inevitable. Hurt, heartbreak, mourning is in direct proportion to the depths of one's mortal love. She was nervous, but she did not cry and she whispered in the ear of her sister the bride, "He is with us."

M. told me that when I arrived at work this morning I was white as a sheet. "White as a ghost," I thought, but I know no ghosts. I know dead people, and you are not dead.


Kelly said...

This reminds me of the song "South Tacoma Way," by Neko Case. A song about a wife mourning her dead husband, with the line:
"I can't comprehend the ways that I miss you/They come to light in my mistakes."

A line that yes, I understand.

Anonymous said...

You've put into words what I could not - the regret about the time I did NOT spend with my mother before she died; the thoughts of past mistakes keeping me awake some nights. My mother died in 2006 and I know she was lonely in her later years. And I didn't do as much as I could have to help.

I've been reading your site for a few years and came back looking to order some of your haunting holiday cards - but they're gone! Do you have plans to bring them back?

~Flaneuse in DC