Things aren’t good today. I’m able to fake it, and laugh at the appropriate moment, but I feel like a shadow. I feel haunted. There are ghosts everywhere – filaments of pain and sorrow and soul-breaking memories, wispy pieces of everything that I wish I could forget, while the things that I should remember are pushed to the back crevices of my mind. I’ve been haunted this week. The images of those last 48 hours come flying up to the surface and no matter how much I try to shove them back down into oblivion, they’re insistent and determined, tenacious and cruel. The images of Mama not knowing my name, not knowing her own name. The image of her irrational anger and cruelty that was so unlike her, and although I knew it wasn’t her talking, it still hurt. The image of the first time she wet herself – too weak to sit up, much less get out of bed, but still holding back from that final indignity for as long as possible. The image of the seizures – the last hour or was it two? Or five? – of her life that was spent in uncontrollable convulsions, her teeth grinding together, and finally gnawing through her tongue. Jennifer and I taking turns holding her head, with the pillow over it so we wouldn’t have to see what used to our Mama, telling her that’s it ok to let go, it’s ok to leave us. Susanna screaming with fury and fear, kicking and hitting blindly until she lay gasping in the floor where one of many intruders held her down while another made her breathe into a bag. Having a clandestine meeting of the sisters, where the three of us methodically and detachedly chose the mortuary, gravesite, songs, people to participate, and service structure. Writing the obituary, following no template and not caring that it was unlike any obituary that we had ever read or will ever read. Going to Sullivan King that next morning, in a fog, drugged into submission, and giggling uncontrollably and inappropriately until the nice funeral home staff excused themselves from the room until we regained control of ourselves. Going into the room of caskets – caskets, caskets, everywhere – and choosing Mama’s “final resting place.” Funny how those cliché terms now actually become relevant. We chose a beautiful (and very expensive) cherry casket with simple and elegant details – much like the rice bed that she loved so much.
And tomorrow night I’m going to Townville and seeing her gravestone for the first time. It’s been there, in place, for a month now, and I’ve steadfastly refused to drive to Townville to see it. Daddy says it’s not right – and Jennifer concurs – and so it’s not the final gravestone… like everything else, something went wrong and now we have to reorder and redo and try, try again. How can that be my Mama’s name carved into pink granite? Sarah Denise Weathers. My mother. Is dead.
I had horrible dreams last night. Dreamed that we had Mama’s funeral early, before she died, so that she could come and enjoy it. That’s just fucked up. I was the caretaker again – washing her face, bringing a cool cloth to wipe the clamminess from her skin, orchestrating each of her meals because Grandma kept trying to feed her “normal” food – food with spices, and pepper, and taste – the only food that Grandma knows how to prepare, and the exact opposite of what Mama needs now. So much about Grandma during those final weeks was the exact opposite of what Mama needed, right until the final screaming, thrashing throes of agony that Grandma performed on Mama’s bed before the seizures started, when Mama was still with us, and still cognizant and knew that someone was shrieking close by – and I looked at Grandma and said “STOP.” And my eyes met Amy’s and she understood and removed Grandma from the room.
And now we owe Grandma a phone call. She called Jennifer and left a message that she would like to hear from us. She didn’t call my phone or Sue’s… only Jennifer’s. Nothing’s changed, except I just care anymore. I forget that she exists – I forget that all of them exist up there in their little time capsule. They were Before.
And Daddy is falling apart. He sleeps with his gun by his bed, and cleans it obsessively. He carries it on walks, and to work, and on CeilBrite jobs. Don’t know how to fix him. Don’t know how to help him. But I call him once a day, and if he doesn’t answer I leave a long, rambling message on his voice mail, and I always tell him I love him. And he’s starting to follow suit. This is the Daddy that never, not even once, told me that he loved me when I was growing up. And now he knows he’s the only one, and he’s finally able to say it easily, for the very first time in his life.
And M and T were in my dream. M apologized – she said that she was sorry that she’d become “infatuated” with E and had been unavailable. Her 30th birthday is a week from yesterday – next Wednesday. T is throwing a huge party for her – he’s been plotting it since she turned 29 – and we’re not invited. It’s not that I expected to be invited – I didn’t. It’s just such an odd feeling, knowing that they’re over there, and we’re over here, and our friendship is truly over. I’ve debated about emailing or calling M for her birthday – I’ve never missed a birthday. But I think I’ve decided not to. All I have toward her is bitterness, betrayal, resentment, mistrust. And calling her for her birthday would just be an excuse to spew that onto her. There’s much mandatory pain right now, and that pain is optional. I choose not to participate.