My mother is dead. Three weeks and two days. Her funeral was very sweet – almost joyful. Sparsely attended, but so many of her friends were waiting on the other side. Three weeks and two days. And still it seems a bit unreal.
I am no longer walking under water, but the feeling has not returned to all my limbs. I am not yet fully present to joy or to sorrow. There have been no tears, but I did not expect any. I had done my grieving for many months as I watched her drift away from herself and me. The few flashes toward the last that reminded us all of who she was seemed fake – staged almost – as if she were saving up little bits here and there to present when the moment seemed right. I was so taken aback when these moments occurred that I almost did not know what to say.
Three weeks and two days. Her apartment is not empty yet. That begins in earnest over the coming weekend – furniture to her niece’s home, to the church and to our home. Dresser drawers of intimate things to go through and dispose of. Cabinets of kitchen items to decide to keep or to let go. The clothes were easy – someone else can surely use them. But the dishes my father bought for her before the married? Not so easy even as my cabinets are already overflowing.
Three weeks and two days. There are thank you notes to be written for memorials, for food, for kind thoughts and helpful deeds. I have not been able to start these yet even as I know that is rude of me. My pen is not yet capable of smiling though my heart is beginning to do so. It is almost amusing to hear myself tell others that I am “fine” in the same tight voice Mother used with me for months when I asked her how she was doing. Yes, I am my Mother’s daughter in so many ways.
Three weeks and two days. In the presence of the Lord, singing with the angels and the archangels, surrounded by friends and family, with my Father and all the beautiful cats they so loved while here! The roses and glads that Daddy grew so beautifully in his garden here, even more splendid in that Garden of unending light. The fulfillment of all her hopes, prayers, dreams and joys there in her eternal life. And it seems only an instant to her!
Three weeks and two days. If my lifetime here is as long as hers, I am two thirds of the way through – only one third left to get it right. To be my Mother’s daughter in all of the faithful ways that she tried to teach, but with, I hope, more fun, more smiles, more joy.
Written in one of Mother’s Bibles was the quote from someone famous that she had heard: When you get ready to die, be sure that is all you have left to do. I’ll try, Mother, I really will try. I promise.