Monday, October 02, 2006

May I please be excused?

I’m exhausted and can’t sleep.

I want something to do and I don’t want anything to do.

I’m restless and just drank coffee- big mistake.

I have bills and laundry and magazine submissions that are already a week late. I can’t seem to write a three-sentence bio the quarterly publication my work was accepted in wants.

I want to go to Rochester and wait. I don’t want to leave my kids.

What happens when somebody dies? I’ve always had my mother to usher me through where and when I should be somewhere. Any documents that needed signing she made sure I signed. I have no idea what the process will be.

Will there be a gathering at a dark paneled, lawyer’s office for the reading of the will where everyone acts out his or her worst greed now that she’s gone? Will my siblings and I fight at that moment? Or is that only in the movies?

Where will her body go? Will I get to see her again before she’s cremated? Who will go with us to intern her ashes at the cemetery? When will it all happen? I feel like I’m a small child with a thousand questions, each one nothing more than movement for it’s own sake, like boiling water while waiting for a baby to be born. Do I need to know? Don’t be in such a rush, my mother always said to me. It makes me nervous, she would add.

My friend said to me before I drove up to say goodbye, try not to write the story before it happens, Sara. You want to create the image so you are prepared for it but end up going to so many other places. Try to stay in the moment. It will be what it will be.

I’m finding it really hard to do. I want to know. Every step. It is the one rollercoaster ride I am impatient to get on- I know I can handle whatever comes up. I simply need it to start.

And the irony is, my mother was always slow. As a child, I was always amazed at how long it took her to eat dinner. She would take a bite, put her fork down. A few minutes later- literally- she would pick her fork back up again. It drove me crazy.

I would try to mimic the way she walked. I would watch her feet while sitting on the floor in the kitchen. She chose each step. Always. I could not get my five-year-old body to move that slowly. I tried to have her grace. I never did.

My kids joke about how slow Grandma is. Pearl can run circles around her! They shout out, playfully. Pearl is ten years older than my mother, nearing 90. And Pearl most certainly could run circles around her. But then, Pearl can run circles around almost anyone.

No one could be excused from the dinner table until she was done. We would all fidget wildly. Ask a hundred times. Now? Can we be excused, please? Now can we?

May, she would remind us. May I please be excused?

One last time, my mother is moving slowly but with absolute certainty.

I’m fidgeting wildly again.

Don’t be in such a rush, I can almost hear her say.

I don't want to make her nervous.

May I please be excused?


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