Just get through it. That’s the goal. Yesterday was Sept 15th. Today is Sept 16th. Tomorrow is Sept 17th.
I feel an urge to pick off the scab and make it bleed – to gouge into the wounds – to go through last year day by day and remember each shattering little detail. But I’m not going to. I’m not going to allow myself to do that… while I’m awake, at least. Last night’s dreams were f-ed up… lots of bits & pieces, some that I remember, some I don’t. Mama was still alive for the most of the night, insisting that she wasn’t going to die. But I knew better, I knew what was coming, and I didn’t know whether I should tell her the truth, or how. Tonight I’ll be dipping back into a pill bottle… whatever it takes to not relive all night what I’ve been avoiding all day.
We are all doing our own thing right now. Like we’ve all gone into our individual shells, withdrawn into our own coping mechanisms. Jennifer’s rearranging the furniture in Townville, making the house look different than it did a year ago. Daddy’s cutting the grass in the dark. Sue’s not discussing it. And I’m watching home movies. Yes, I finally got the home movies out.
It’s not easy to watch. I sit and gasp with sobs, the kind where it hurts so badly that it’s hard to believe that the heartbreak is figurative and my heart’s not actually, physically ripping into pieces. But I’ve had a fear that I’ll allow the last year with Mama to become more vivid than the 29 before that. And that’s just wrong. It’s not fair to me, or Mama, and it’s not accurate. Mama was a lovely, vivacious, passionate, loving, irreverent woman, mother, wife, daughter, teacher, friend. She wasn’t a cancer victim, a cancer survivor, a cancer anything… cancer had nothing to do with who she really was. She played her cancer role with style and strength and amazing determination… but ultimately, cancer was something that happened to her, not that defined her.
And the home movies show that. Through that amateur videography, I’ve been able to relive her interaction with each of us – Mama & Jennifer. Mama & Susanna. Mama & Daddy. Mama & David Lee. Mama & Bobby. And Mama & me. Each of our relationships with her were different, and each will be forgotten if we let cancer take it away from us. I’ve watched her warble “Some Day My Prince Will Come” at the top of her lungs. I’ve heard her call Daddy “Johnny,” me “Queenie,” and David “Davey-Gravy.” I’ve watched her roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving Day, 2001. And I’ve even heard her make joking comments about how “we can watch this when she’s dead and gone.” She cackled with laughter when she said it, but it wasn’t so funny to me…. then or now.
So the videos have become my most cherished possession. Thank you, sweet Bobby, for taking me shopping for a video camera seven years ago. We weren’t even “officially” dating yet, but you somehow managed to give me the gift of my mother’s laugh and smile and who she really, REALLY was. I miss her so. But having it on tape beats the shit out of not having it at all.