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After Great Pain – Well, During…..

So on Friday my mother died, and of course I have feelings about that but they are still private, tender things that I prefer to hold close. I am sad, I am busy, I am overwhelmed, I wish people still brought casseroles, and I am destroyed by finding an article about a favorite writer of ours in her drawer with a Post-it that says “Annie.” Of course I am terribly worried about my father, and taking seriously my mother’s last lucid sentence to me which was “take care of your father.” Well, actually, her last words were “I’m a grown woman and I can use the bathroom by myself,” but you know, the other sentiment seems like a better thing to remember.

There are all kinds of things about faith, and literature that fill my head incessantly – “Stop All the Clocks,” “Death Be Not Proud,” “After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes,” and ideas about heaven, reincarnation, and the spirit world. As a Jew she did not believe in heaven, and as a person I don’t believe in heaven, so I’m pretty sure she isn’t sitting on a cloud in a white dress playing a harp. Because that would absolutely bore her to tears and infuriate her beyond all endurance.

Right now I think she’s around, because that poor, battered body wasn’t really her, and the canister of ashes we will eventually be offered in the hideous gold and green hush of the funeral home isn’t really her, either. The real part of her, the part that we loved, is in my hot, wet eyes and in my leaden heart and in the things I now do that she would do – like making my dad take naps and eat food. I think she sees me, and I feel her, and it’s not as good, not nearly as good as when she called me every morning, but it will have to do for now. There isn’t much of a choice.

I also know she’s here because this morning I thought to myself that I really needed lip balm because I had two sticks and I had accidentally washed one with the laundry and lost the other one. I was rifling through her 27 purses trying to find her Social Security number for the funeral home, and there, in the last one, was a brand new Crème de La Mer lip balm. Because I needed it.

Later, I opened the plastic bag of “personal effects” from the hospital and found a pair of Uggs slippers. She and I had matching pairs, bought during a wonderful day of shopping at a shoe outlet somewhere in the Florida Panhandle. My pair was lost almost immediately, and I left Florida after that trip knowing that I would never see them again.

For no particular reason other than wanting my feet to be where her feet had been, and the fact that I was wearing flip flops in October, I slid them on. They fit. They fit because they were mine, a size 9, far too large for her tiny size 6.5 feet. Apparently she had been wearing them for years, since that last trip south. Maybe she alternated between her own small slippers and my larger pair. All I know is that my feet were cold and she gave me my slippers back.

I’ll write more, some time. I might feel like it tomorrow, or I might spend tomorrow sitting on the floor of her closet and wailing. It’s hard to say, because I’ve never done this before. Right now, I’m pretty sure she’s here, looking out for my cold feet and my dry lips, in and around me as we start this new part of our relationship.


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

5 responses »

  1. Oh my. With a stab of remembrance and hot tears in my own eyes, I’m reaching out with a cyber hug and a heart full of love for you.

  2. The heaviness. The words are heavy and my hot tears are heavy. You just give the most beautiful words to something that I too will face and that I have much anxiety about. I love that she had lip gloss for you and I love that her slippers were yours. Wrap a sweater of hers around you so you know she is giving you a hug. I know she would if she were here. Much love and healing thoughts to you, Ann. ❤

  3. i don’t know anyone but you who could write this lucidly and lovingly about the bomb that just went off in your life. if you think she’s around, watching you stick your feet into her slippers, then she is. that’s all i can type right now – there are both too many words and not enough.

  4. Ann,
    Often my hands move and I wonder where the direction comes from, doing things that I cannot do, acting on knowledge I do not have. I realize that my father is free of his limitations now, free to be here for me fully.
    If my experiance is any guide, you may end up running to keep up with your dad now. My mom has adopted a philosophy that she is living for them both now, racing headlong into each day with abandon. May you and your father try your best not to dwell on her physical absence, it will get in the way of her newfound presence.
    Sorry she had to go. In some messed up way I am happy for you, because from now on you can not doubt eternal life, it will be repeatedly demonstrated without question. I am proud you took the time to overcome the barriers of communications with her, for her to know with certainty you loved her.


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