May 22, 2019
My mom died last night. I want to be mad, l think. It’s weird to have been grieving someone that’s been living for so long. I missed her. Or not long, really. I miss her. 51. Fathers aren’t meant to die at 51. Mothers are meant to die at 51.
I didn’t sleep much because my body feels sick and my eyes ache. So naturally I arrived two hours early for my flight back home just so I could get up and feel like I was doing something that mattered. My Uber driver told me to be strong. He said that’s all we can do. He doesn’t get to tell me what to do or how to feel. He wanted to help, but I don’t feel so entirely like being strong right this second. I’m always strong for the most part, have been for a while now, but right this moment I want to be weak and let the reality of my moms death be. That’s the healthy thing to do. At least, that’s what I’ve decided, because late last night I dubbed myself a grief therapist without any credentials or schooling and I know the best ways to recover. Which is obviously 100% not true.
So I cried at gate C11 on and off for two hours. Googling sad things. Googling how other people felt when they’d been through the same. Googling to validate my feelings. Googling to feel like I understood my grief already. It’s like when you’re sick and you use WebMD to confirm that you do in fact have 30 days to live and your sore throat most definitely could not be a cold. It’s usually a cold.
I never drink coffee. It makes me sweat. My palms are already sweaty most days, something I’ve hated about my body since I was a teen and my brother made fun of my clammy hands. I can’t help it if I have an overactive nervous system. I respond to everything in a physical way. I got the coffee anyway. I am so tired. Maybe it’ll help.
I’m flying first class, which seems insane and completely over the top to me. But it’s what my family decided to make sure I was “comfortable” flying back in this state alone. Sure, it feels nice as I’m sitting here with my feet crossed in my seat and my head back in a bigger than normal plane seat. But the reality is I have a dull ache in my stomach. My jaw is so tight, I can’t figure out how to release the tension I keep holding in my face. I literally think my jaw has shifted since yesterday, like the anatomy of my teeth forever changed. Everything changed. And my eyes burn so hard, they might as well be on fire. They’re like when you go camping and you decide you’re going to make s’mores. You slide the marshmallow onto your skewer and delicately place the marshmallow in the flame, hoping to hit this perfect golden brown. And it’s a slow burn, slowly glazing over, until you get distracted and the marshmallow is enveloped in flames. Luckily, my eyes haven’t caught on fire yet. But maybe they will.
There are usually 12 people in first class—two per each window side, four people per row, three rows. But today there are 13. I am seated next to the only mother and daughter in this flight. Her name is Camilla. She’s 18 months. She laughs at almost anything and loves that we both like to drink water. And wow, does her mom love her. I don’t just see it, I can feel it. We played catch with this purple plastic Easter egg, the kind that opens up and usually has a chocolate egg inside. Except there wasn’t anything inside her egg. She ate the chocolate a few months ago.
She liked to open and close it. Throw me half and laugh. It’s easier that way, to pretend like nothing happened for a second. That my mom didn’t die without me saying goodbye. Loss works like that—there aren’t a lot of notices in the mail that let you know this is coming and how you can prepare. Loss isn’t like completing your taxes. I’ve been preparing for this, I tell myself. But you can never really prepare. She was kind, she had grace, and she gave love.
My mom died, my mom died. It’s repeating in my head.
Anyways, butterflies have always reminded me of my mom.