Another year in the books

Posted on October 2, 2015


MomI remember October 2, 2009. I remember the early morning phone call from my aunt that my mom would die. I remember the call two days later during which I consented to have my mom taken off life support. I wonder, does that mean you died twice, mom?

I remember crying for what felt like the first time when I saw my dad at the funeral.

I remember going to her apartment to take stock of her things. My aunt found a letter that carried the unmistakable tone that she’d known she wouldn’t be around much longer. But then, we all knew. Except for some valuable electronics and family heirlooms we’d left nearly everything for an elderly woman who was moving in and had no furniture. In death, my mother would give this woman a furnished home.

I remember thinking it funny in a very unfunny way that her death certificate said “tobacco” as cause of death instead of “alcohol.” I remember when I’d last seen her in a hospital – I remember her weight was 86 pounds.

I cannot remember not seeing her drinking.

I remember the guilt. The ambivalence. The realization that she was unhealthy and as much a prisoner to her demons as she was, she kept me by her side in that cell. I remember pretending to sleep so I wouldn’t have to talk to her. I remember I was 12 the first time she told me she was ready to die.

I remember the clink of her glass the glugging sound of boxed Franzia poured out. I remember the singe of cigarette burns on the towel she kept at the table, but how I loved the smell of a freshly lit Marlboro red. I remember how hollow her face was and the echo of shattering glass against a wall behind me.

I have asked almost everyday for six years – why do these memories stand out so much more than the sound of her laughter or the nights we’d spend rapt with conversation about books or movies or theories or life or love? I fear I’m losing the sound of her voice like a fog slipping back over the bay as the sun pushes high into the sky.

It’s unfair to her because these moments were not all she was. Albeit true I spent more time wanting to be away from her, there were days I wished would never have ended.

Six years later and the anniversary was days away before I’d realized it. Hadn’t I just been celebrating your birthday? But it does hurt less now. There will be moments when your absence will sting like fresh heartbreak but for now at least I’ve found my sealegs to weather this storm of memories.

RIP mom.

Posted in: Musings