I wish someone would come along and lift me out of the cavern I’ve fallen into. But even if someone tried, I would probably say, “I’m good, don’t worry about me”.
It’s grief. She’s here, infusing each moment with her presence.
I tried to keep her at bay. I said, “I’ve been through this before, I know you well, you won’t get to me this time”. She didn’t listen. She never listens. If I am able to ignite a small spark into even a weak flame she comes along and snuffs it out. There is no reasoning with her. She inserts herself into every conversation and weaves herself in and out of my thoughts. Several times a day she abruptly reminds me, “Your mother is dead”.
She ushers in a host of accessories. Condolence cards I open and read and then shove back into the envelope. Someone’s mother has died, apparently, I tell myself.
Grief’s arrival brought an odd gift, 5 days of bereavement leave. It’s generous, I think. Most people get only three. I took my five days. For a few days at work I was “the woman whose mother died”. Most people said nothing, some said a word or two. Some gave me sympathetic glances. But they’ve moved on now, and so has the rest of the world.
I try not to bristle when someone asks me, “Why are you crying?”
I see her in my mind, her body. Her knuckles swollen and knotted. Her fingernails painted a creamy coral. Next to her blueish skin the color was almost garish. Her nails had grown past the last manicure. Her nails grew because she was alive.
She didn’t know who I was anymore, but I reminded her of someone she knew once, she had told me. When she was alive, Her voice was still my mother’s. I could listen to it, before.
I saved her last voicemail on my phone. She called me to let me know that she would be arriving soon but that she was staying where she was for the night. She wasn’t actually coming, the call wasn’t connected to anything in reality. But she didn’t want me to worry. I saved it because I knew the day would come when it would be the only thing I had left of her.
And this is what echoes through the cavern I’ve fallen into. The one that is threatening to swallow me whole.