We had dinner at my Dad’s yesterday.
Grief is beginning to be a companion. It’s strange where and when it strikes.
What you don’t realize about death is how high it takes you in some regards. It’s almost like the reverse of a much-anticipated vacation where you can’t wait ’til it’s here, then you’re excited in the midst of it, let down when it’s over, but glad for the memories once you have a little space from all the commotion. Losing a loved one seems to be this chain of events in total relief: You dread the day it’s going to happen, then you’re smashed and senseless in the midst of it, yet carried on the high of friends and family you haven’t seen all together in one place for a time and all the memories and love shared, but once you have a little space from all the commotion some of the strangest memories and realization of loss begin to set in.
Driving to Dad’s from Trader Joe’s yesterday I stopped at a light at the hospital entrance for perhaps the first time since Mom passed. I looked up at the corner room I knew had been hers in her last lucid days and my heart ached. I thought for a moment, “Guy, if I could just walk up there one more time. If only she were THERE so we could pop in and visit.” I caught myself in the absurdity of it. Longing for her in a hospital? No. Of course I don’t want her there. I shared it with Dad last night as we sat in the kitchen with a lifelong friend, Lola, and a glass of wine.
“Ah…but that’s it…no you don’t want her at the hospital. A visit though…that’s the thing.”
“Have you begun to feel the lack of her, too? So strongly?”
He winced and nodded. “Oh, yes. Just now as I washed my hands I was thinking how dearly she would have loved to be here to see Eamonn, and eat a meal and hear the conversations we’ve had.”
We talked about Heaven, about whether or not she knows us here now, what kind of memory we have once we are there, gone from here. My dad surprised me.
“I hope not — I hope she’s so taken with it all…with that ‘wonder-world that opened upon her astonished sight.'” He glowed for a moment with the thought of it, and then we both melted to teary eyes a little. He was referring to a daily devotion from Morning and Evening by C.H. Spurgeon for February 7 that he had happened upon and read to Mom before we knew how soon she would be dying. “I think I’d like that read at the service,” she’d told him. And it was.
We hash it over and over but what it comes down to is that we miss her. She has left a mom-sized hole and the lack of her hurts.
I ventured to the Village Kitchen earlier this week with Eamonn. It was the first time I’d gone without a flock of family since she’s been gone. I was fine until I sat down and reached to open cream for my coffee. Chemo had killed so many of the nerve endings in Mom’s fingers that she was nearly completely numb. We both like creamy coffee and so, though she had figured out how to open her creamers with a butter knife in one hand on her own, I always opened her cream for her as well as mine. How ridiculous it was sometimes was to try to control a toddler, get my morning fix of caffeine in, and manhandle those darn little creamer tops at the same time — four between the two of us for each mug. We used to laugh about it and she’d look across the table at me and shrug in her own mom way as she fumbled and spilled the creamer. How little this is, this memory. And how much would I have paid to open her creamer for her that morning earlier this week?
The tears came. I have a deeper supply than I ever knew. I don’t heave and sob but they just flow and flow and flow. Through ordering, through pancakes, through two mugs of coffee, barely stopped up through the paying and tipping and gathering of belongings to leave.
“Mom. Are okay?” Eamonn asked in his unique toddler drawl. “Mom. Are sad?”
“Yes, bud. I’m sad. I miss Grandma and it makes me sad; it makes my heart ache.”
And so, our hearts ache and we miss her as we wash our hands and drink our coffee — while we wait to meet her there in that wonder world she now calls home.