Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How it's going

I haven't been sleeping very well since last Wednesday and it's starting to seep into my every day interactions with people, even those who don't know, who have no reason to know what happened because they might just be the clerk at 7-11 trying to take my money, or the guy in the elevator who's asking me which button to push.

"you need three more pennies." 
"I'm sorry, my mom died and I can't do math."
"what floor?"
 "I'm sorry, my mom just died, I can't remember where my office is."

I have no idea why I feel the need to work the fact that my mom died into these interactions. I don't even know why I apologize first before I say it, every time, like I'm afraid it's going to punch this total stranger in the gut the same way it punched me when someone told me the news.  But they don't even flinch. I suppose other people's mothers die every day and we can't expect the world to stop spinning every time.

 Still, it would be nice to get some sleep. Restful sleep anyway. I'm going to bed and I'm shutting my eyes, but I don't stay asleep for very long. Or if I do, I have these really vivid, bothersome dreams. Last night I dreamt that my mom had died just like she did in real life, but in the dream, we found out that she had been pregnant.   That shit isn't restful.

A lot of you wrote some kind words to me about the lightning bug story and I wanted to thank you for that. Sam pointed out to me that he sees lightning bugs ALL the time in our back yard. He thinks that I took some poetic license there, but the truth is, he just spends more time on the back porch than I do.  I totally get that some people believe in angels and some people don't. Some people want to think their moms still look out for them after they're gone even if its in the form of an insect and some people don't.  Different Strokes. It's ok.  Even if you chose to poo-poo that whole lightning bug thing, my mom still found a way to get a word in. Literally. 

I'll tell you the story:

The day after she died, my dad and stepdad and sister went to the funeral home to make arrangements. She died on Wednesday, we had the rosary on Friday and the funeral on Saturday. All very quickly done.  After the service on Saturday, we had a nice lunch for everyone and then just our immediate family went back to my mom's house for one last champagne toast.  While we were hanging out, we were sitting in the kitchen, flipping through her cookbooks. My mom used to like to stick cards and postcards or little handwritten notes all in her reference books, dictionaries, cookbooks, etc. I thought about it for a second and thought I'd just go check her bible to see what was in there because it seemed like the kind of place my mom would have stuck some notes. It's this big, fat white tome she always had sitting on a sofa table in her living room.  "oh, you won't find anything in there," my sister Kate said, "we already went through it looking for bible verses for the service."  But I flipped open the bible and there it was, first thing I saw: a white envelope with my mom's handwriting on it that said, "Mom's Last Wishes."

I looked at my brother whose face turned white as a sheet and I said, "What the hell is this??"

So, we grabbed both of my sisters and headed into my mom's room to open the envelope. In it was a sheet of paper with handwritten directives for how she wanted her funeral to go.  Memorial Gardens Funeral Home, Check. Holy Cross Catholic Church, Check. Lavendar dress, Check. Father Harvey? uh, no. He couldn't make it, but Father Dupuis did a lovely job. No big flower arrangements, just 1 red rose for each grandchild. Oops. Sorry, flowers and arrangements everywhere and the roses we got for you were yellow.  The best was her declaration, "Under no circumstances is anyone to play OR sing Amazing Grace. I don't like it."  Yeah. First song in the service. Sorry about that, Mom. You can't win 'em all. 

But then tucked into that larger envelope was a smaller envelope that said, "To be read at Rosary." In it was a two page note telling each of us how much she cared about and was proud of us. Thanking us.

Both the letter and the funeral directions were undated, but they were written some time after my son Rowan was born 3 years ago because she mentions him by name with the rest of the grandkids. My mom hadn't been sick or in poor health. Had no reason other than normal mortality to think she needed to write this down and place it where one of us would think to look in the event of her death.  Of course, it would have been nice to find it a day earlier.... because we didn't get it in time to follow all of her directions. But I think we found it when we needed to find it: when it was just us, the people who loved her most, on the toughest day that most of us had ever had. When we needed to hear from my mom just one more time that she loved us.

It was better than a lightning bug even.


Anonymous said...

Hang in there, Lee. I get this and there isn't much for me to say except I am sorry that you are going through this. Know that I understand the things that cannot be articulated and how much a mom can be missed. AP

Blue Gal said...

I think people don't react when you tell them your mom has died either because they have experienced it and know exactly how you feel, or they immediately blank it out because they find it so terrifying. It's a body blow to lose a parent. People get so uncomfortable talking about death and when they imagine it hitting them personally they often clam up.

The story about the note gave me chills. I believe people can reach out to send messages after death…or maybe you just found it when you were supposed to. I'm glad you found it.