First day complete. I cleaned a bit, learned how to install a favicon on my blog (enter the nifty little pink “S”), and had lunch with Daddy, Jen, & Maggie.
And I thought. A lot. Going to S-D kept my brain occupied, so that real thoughts only came in spurts. But today, there was a steady stream, and an awareness. For example, while driving to lunch, I had the thought “Right this minute, I’m so happy.” It was the exhilarating freedom, driving a convertible with the top down, hot wind on my face, and knowing that I’m not counting the vacation hours until I’m back to work.
I also cried today. Sue came home upset – we go for months without hearing “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban, and then today, she heard it three times. It was the song that Mike sang to Mama during her funeral… his voice was so achingly beautiful, but I try not to remember. And then on the way home, Sue rolled her window down and smelled grass. Grass = Mama… that fresh, outdoor smell that she always had during the summer, as she worked in the yard.
She came home, and we cried together on her bed. Cried because it’s unfair. It’s unfair that we don’t have our mother. It’s unfair that Sue didn’t have the chance to be friends with Mama… Mama died while they were still in that adolescent child/parent struggle. It’s unfair that Mama made a list of things to do around the house, not knowing that it would sit dormant on the computer until Jennifer found it just last week. It feels far away sometimes… like it happened to someone else. And then it comes home again – triggered by a smell, a song, an event – and it’s shattering.
As I drove home on Friday, I wanted to call Mama so badly that it physically hurt. As I passed Sullivan-King, a series of images started in my head. I was detached, watching myself walk down the cold, stark hallway to the morgue where Mama was lying on that cold, cold metal surface. It was like a movie, like I was there again in that funeral home, helping prepare my mother for burial. And I gagged suddenly, violently. And then, in a proven avoidance technique, I rolled all four windows down and turned up whatever song was playing, turned it up so loudly that I could feel it thumping in my head and all over, so loudly that it drowns out everything.
I voiced a recurring thought for the first time today, and to my surprise, Sue agreed. I want to watch our home videos. I’m ready to fill my head with our family, pre-cancer. I want to remember what Mama’s laugh sounded like – not just remember it in my head, but actually HEAR it. I want to see the five of us together, interacting and not knowing what was coming. I’ve occasionally thought that I wish I had known that Mama was going to die, that it wouldn’t have been so devastating if I had been able to prepare. But I’m glad I didn’t know, that none of us knew. Those videos, many of which we’ve never even watched, are evidence of our confidence in the fairness of life. It never occurred to any of us that it could go so horribly awry.
I won’t allow the unfairness, disillusionment, and heartbreak steal the joy from what we had. I know watching the home videos will be painful because now it’s gone. But I also know that we only got the video camera out when things were funny, when we were laughing… I want to replace those last wretched memories with the good ones, the real ones.