Today is my 56th birthday. It is also the first birthday I will celebrate without my mom; she died four days ago. And, yes, I am sad, but I don’t think I’ve really started grieving for her yet. I’m still in the “What the hell happened?” stage as far as she is concerned. I’m also in the “When will this ever end?” stage of grief for my younger brother, who we lost to brain cancer 14 months ago. Technically speaking, I still have another four months of grieving for him, so I guess my grief for mom will need to take a number. (Sorry, mom, I guess it’s a good thing you didn’t mind waiting in line.)
I keep thinking about the appointment I need to make for my yearly physical. The doctor always asks, “Anything changed in your life since the last time you were here?” How exactly does one come out and say, “Why, yes. Remember how last year I told you my brother had just died? Well, now it seems my mother has died as well.” Do they immediately hand you a prescription for anti-depressants or do you still have to answer some questions first?
(I guess I’ll find out in a couple of weeks.)
In the meantime, my remaining siblings and I have been pitching in to help dad declutter and “de-feminize” his home. We’ve already removed countless boxes of mom’s clothing, jewelry, romance novels, and quilting supplies. All that’s really left to do is take down all the Precious Moments statues, decorative bottles, quilted wall hangings, and various bunny rabbit tchotchkes. Apparently, 58 years of looking at all mom’s knickknacks was enough; he’s ready to leave pastel colors behind, convert the sewing room into a reading library, and begin this new stage in his life. I really can’t say that I blame him. My mom was good at many things but room decorating was not really her forte.
What she was really good at was making people feel loved. She counted several of our long-time friends as her “stray” children and always made time to invite you in, listen to your current life predicament, and feed you a good, hearty meal. My mom liked being a mom more than anything else in this world.
The sun is finally up. I guess it’s time to get on with today’s activities: feeding the dogs, setting out some bird food for my feathered backyard friends to feast on, and then digging up something for my own breakfast before I head out for a walk. It would be right about now mom would have called me up, told me how cold and snowy it was the day I was born, and then recounted once again how she dreamed I was born with brown hair instead of the red I really came into the world wearing, which left her accusing many a fine upstanding nun of baby swapping at the Catholic hospital I was delivered in.
I’m really going to miss those calls.