Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Two Weeks

It’s been two weeks since my mother died. In some ways, nothing has really changed. Jeanine and I are back to fighting again. The kids are arguing over gargoyles and clowns- which are scarier. Eventually they slide into some form of potty humor involving gargoyles and clowns. I have meetings this week and next I’m preparing for, reading materials, making notes. I met a friend for coffee this morning. We talked about the teachers at school, our kids recent successes and things that cause us to worry.

Life, at normal speed.

And then I spoke to my sister in law. They received the copies of the death certificate. It was painful for her to read. The cause of death listed brought back a day of agony for her, when my mother was in pain and she could not get the hospice nurse there fast enough. She talked about her guilt, her anger at herself for not trusting her instincts. I was stunned to hear the cause- I don’t know why- but I was. I forget to tell her how much I appreciated all she did for my mother. Things I could not do. With kindness I could not find.

Suddenly, I realize, it’s only been two weeks.

Her house remains mostly untouched, minus the removal of old flowers and food. Security systems have been changed, the County Sheriff notified, and my brother or his wife check on it daily. It feels like an intrusion, she said, of stopping by. As if we’re doing something wrong. We’re not allowed to be there without your mother.

We both laugh. My mother always wanted to be scary, to some degree, even in death. There were some things she would look at us and say, if you do this, I’ll come back and haunt you. And she meant it. We were never allowed to challenge her will, ever. We were never, ever allowed to sue anyone- she hated how people didn’t know how to take responsibility for themselves. And if we ever did anything flashy in her name, like a memorial on some building somewhere, she would do more than haunt us.

We wondered about letters her grandfather wrote her, ones she held close, re-reading them over and over. Once, when I was home from college on a break, she showed me one. Just one. I knew it was sacred to her. And then we talked about where her wedding pictures might be, who might want them. While looking for the title to the car, my sister in law found my original birth certificate. It was in a folder marked with my brother and sister’s names. She never found the title. She couldn’t bear to keep opening up my mother’s things.

We have to go through the house, she said.

I know we do. I can’t imagine doing it. Privacy was something my mother valued intensely. I always respected that. When I was helping her with her finances years ago, I would never ask to see anything. Slowly, she showed me everything, all the certificates, where every penny was invested. It was a major accomplishment in trust. She was not happy with me when she died. I cannot wait for her to show me again, in her own time. It feels like cheating. I didn’t earn it. I’m not sure I ever could have again.

I realize, I’m afraid. Not of her ghost, if there is one, because I have not broken any of the haunting rules. And I have no secrets from her- I did until this summer. I no longer do. I’m scared of how I’ll feel when I open the cherished letters. When I see the pictures she saved of me, as a child. Of our family.

It’s only been two weeks.


Post a Comment

<< Home