High Away, Bye Bye

This moody child regrets her (continuing) absence.

The new school year started two weeks ago. Two weeks before that, my mother finally passed away. I spent all of my best words on her obituary, but who knows, maybe someday more words will show up.

My classes are good. Challenging, but good. Well, it's not all good, but the kids are good. The rest is hormones and habits. (And, okay, the mainstreamed student who throws a full screaming temper tantrum if I don't look at both sides of the room equally. High school ain't what it used to be. But s/he also has a catastrophic meltdown if anyone sings songs from Frozen, so I'm sympathetic.

Dad is doing okay. We talk a lot. School and time differences have messed up thr twice-plus-daily Skype-a-thons since It Happened, but relatives and neighbours have taken good care of him. Lots of lunches. But I worry about him as I rush off to work, knowing the night is rolling across Texas. Knowing the night.

It's funny, what slaps you in the face. I have the usual grief and the grief particular to my/our situation. The sudden grief. Et cetera. What I did not anticipate was the disappointment that comes when a clear sign fails to make itself known from the beyond.

I mean, I'm a skeptic, but an open-minded one. Mom told me about the little oddities that happened when some of her loved ones passed away. I didn't realise that when the time came, I'd expect the same. If it were possible to give a nudge, a reassurance, Mom would. So...

The days were hot here before Mom died. We're in a heat wave now. Bush fires - some natural, some from arson - have ravaged the area for the past six weeks. Tonight we once again saw the main highway to Perth closed. It's been crazy. We lost almost an entire historic town not far away to the fires. Some of my students had to evacuate their homes during the summer break. Some have had to evacuate again since.

But in the middle of this, when Mom left us, the rain came. Rain, just like in the movies, and monarch butterflies.

I often see white butterflies in the backyard in the spring, and over the years I've marveled at never seeing any others. But here it was, rain, and here they were, monarch butterflies, in summer. Butterflies, like the shape of the locket Dad bought for me, after, to hold a lock of Mom's hair. Butterflies, like the art that leans against our walls as we come up on three years in this rental. Two paintings that my mother took from her walls and sent to me in Las Vegas eleven years ago. The last care package she was ever able to send.

But none of this is the sign I want. I'm greedy. I want my mother's warm, perfumed ghost in my ear telling me that she's happy, that wherever she is now makes up for all those years of...

I'm aware that I'm under unusual amounts of stress on several fronts. There doesn't seem to be much that can be done about it, though. I don't jog. My liver's too skittish for alcoholism. Writing's too physically awkward. A pet would be nice, but thinking about a down payment on a house so that can happen is not.

I'm okay. Just tired. For awhile I thought it would be a little better if I wasn't spending my days in a world where my mother has never really existed, but that has passed.

I'm okay. Another shock: Dad's photo of a small decorative case on the coffee table. Inside, Mom's stylish urn. Some room for photos, jewelry. (Will never happen. What if a burglar...)

How does it all come down to a box?

A few oceans away, rain that never touched my skin, butterflies that never left the trees to wink past our balcony. The service ends, and life never stops ticking on, now plus one box.

I don't know how many more boxes are coming in my lifetime. Someday I will be in a box, too. Laughing at all this maudlin pecking, I hope. Maybe someone will be left to put all of these boxes together. If not, then it won't matter. Boxes are for the living. My head can't wrap around how they could have anything to do with the dead.

I'm okay. I have missed my Mom for a long time. Now I'm just shuddering as an already closed door clicks shut.



13 February 2016 |

Previously: My Sketchy Life
Next: Dwelling