About now, then

27 Apr

If this was then, she’d be dead by now.

It would be early evening, and I would have been preparing for bed, or more than likely in our small, insular town, peeling casseroles off the front porch. Left quietly by the well meaning, a card tucked inside, the sides still warm from hands that departed before any of us could say thank you, or at least stare blankly at them, wondering why we were the only ones who felt like the earth had moved so much in so little time.

I would have come back from a friend down the street, after standing, shell shocked in front of the fire station telling them, “It’s over, she’s dead now, I’m fine.” The stark frozen words that exited my mouth that day. I would have done my part, and my duty, a play I signed on for months back, my staring role, I would have been there, as my classmates stared, gaped really, and the teachers tried to find a nice way to find out why I was there, my my 11 year old self was so unbowed by the events of the day that I was ready, and willing, to be someone else for awhile.

“She’d see me” I’d explained to my father “At least this way, she’d be able to see me.”

About now we would have all been sitting in the quiet of our house, oddly empty when filled to the brim with so many people, the stillness eerie and pressing upon my shoulders. Maybe we stared at each other, the knowledge of my mother’s cold body tucked into a corner somewhere, behind a tree perhaps, where we didn’t need to see it.

About now, I’d be thinking about the day, how it started with a seizure, and a neighbour after the ambulance left. How I muttered she’d be fine and slammed the door before I had a chance to cry. I’d be thinking of my brother, standing in the schoolyard, my mother’s favorite priest (and mine, truth be told) in the car, waiting, the teacher nodding sadly, her hand stretched out to me. The long drive there.

The cold hallways that never changed. The stench of death. The transience on that floor. Even the furniture was uncomfortable.

About now I’d be thinking of that fragmented moment when the machines died, and I screamed and crumbled to the floor, and the stale me that was froze in time, and became merely “ok”. About now I’d be wondering if it was a dream, and she’d come walking around the corner and tell me to tidy my room.

It was all in the book they gave me, months before. Or months after, I never touched it, not for a long time, not willing to admit my loss, our loss, not really, shock taking months to ooze itself from my pores. 

About now I was already feeling sick and tired of being a grown up, being brave, like I could anticipate my life, and how I’d need to split it between having fun and doing what needed to be done. How tired I would become of doing all the things that needed to be done, of paying attention where none was paid to me. Of being a woman when I never really got to taste being a child.

About now I’d be wondering if her fake breast would be buried with her.

About now I’d spend my first night a daughter without a mother, a child bereft, left in the arms of a broken man. About now I’d realize I was on my own, my desires and whims and sadness only for me, never to be shared or held for me, never to be borne by another.

About now I’d have broken down like the child I was, and wept myself to sleep.

15 Responses to “About now, then”

  1. Ainse April 27, 2009 at 8:32 pm #

    That was a very powerful and moving post. I’m sorry you had to go through such loss.

  2. Bon April 27, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

    the private lives that go on behind closed doors…this is the real grieving stuff, the stuff that marks people.

    for me this was evocative and poignant…and heartbreaking b/c i can see the little girl shouldering a whole life, a whole self.

  3. sdianne April 27, 2009 at 9:09 pm #

    Thinking of you…

  4. Katherine Stone April 27, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    Wow. There are no words …

  5. Quadelle April 27, 2009 at 11:07 pm #

    There are no words, but I cannot read of such loss without leaving some anyway…just to acknowledge the unfathomable depths of the grief thrust upon your family.

  6. Sis B April 28, 2009 at 12:03 am #

    you describe it so perfectly…. down to the warm casserole. it was my brother and i was 14, but many parts are the same.

    thank you for writing this. i’m sorry for your loss. anniversaries are hard.

  7. angharad April 28, 2009 at 3:29 am #

    it hurts to read this – it must have hurt a lot more to write it.

  8. Marcy April 28, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    My thoughts and prayers are with you today.

  9. Hannah April 28, 2009 at 9:41 am #

    Oh Thor, I keep starting sentences and then deleting them because they sound all wrong.

    So I’ll just repeat what you told me: we are with you.

  10. sweetsalty kate April 28, 2009 at 10:00 am #

    This has to be an exfoliating thing, to write like this. It helps to form you and lend stronger roots to your story of yourself. Beautifully written, thor.

  11. daisybones April 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    If I could say something better than Kate I would. My heart is with you. Can a vaguely mystic Unitarian call an atheist her soul sister?

    Love to you, dearest woman.

  12. Cynthia Page April 28, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    I have nothing appropriate to say. I’m so sorry.

  13. Superla April 29, 2009 at 9:12 am #

    Holding you in the light.

  14. Gabriel... December 9, 2013 at 12:36 am #

    Send me an email. I need to talk to someone very badly, and immediately.

  15. Gabriel... December 9, 2013 at 12:39 am #

    …use the email address with my comment. Then, please, delete the comments.

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