Sometime in early January, I put a note on my calendar; specifically a note on March 28th that read as follows: "How are you?"
March 28th marks three months since my Mom died. Like many people, I have picked up the daily responsibilities that don't go away, no matter how numb I feel. I've rejoined the workplace and have found equal measures of distraction and panic there over these past three months.
I've felt bereft and heartbroken. I've wanted time to pass quickly so the loss would feel softer and more distant; I've wanted time to stop completely so I could just sit quietly with my sadness and give it its due.
So, Renee, how are you?
I've wanted to call my Mom just about every day; sometimes several times a day, and many evenings when I had time on my hands and knew she would enjoy a story about something that had happened that day. I've wanted to give her extremely good news and have her celebrate with me; I've wanted to share frustrations and feel her comfort. I wanted to hear about her day; her stories about her lifelong friends she saw regularly; her updates from her many visits to half a dozen doctors.
Events that are coming up, including Easter (when she still insisted on coloring eggs every year and putting out baskets of candy), my son's senior recital that would find her bursting with pride, and the births of two babies that are due to join our family this summer, will all be missing one tiny scrap of happiness for me because she won't share them and take absolute joy in in each of them.
But really, how are you?
I'm a little different than I was three months ago. I've lost a touchstone of sorts; a person who could be my rock, my cheerleader, my sounding board and my challenger, always accompanied by unconditional love. The new me has one less lifelong friend in the world; someone who knew me like no one else does.
In between the meetings with the attorney; or my niece who is selling Mom's house; or the insurance companies who never seem to request everything they need from me at one time, I try to separate the pile of paperwork from the emotions that pile up and then crash from time to time. I've apologized to my husband and sons for being distracted and upset about "estate" things that tend to take over my life from time to time; and have thanked God for their understanding.
The questions don't seem to stop. Unanswerable, of course: questions like why I didn't do one thing or another for her, why I didn't insist on doing one thing or another instead of accepting her resolute nature about what she could do on her own.
Some of the questions are specific: why didn't I go clean her house once a week? Why wouldn't I have made it my job to pick up her groceries and run her errands? Why didn't I help her organize her basement while she and I could have laughed together about the chaos that my Mom preferred to think of as temporary until she could "get to it."
Why didn't I ever buy her an amazing hat and take her to the Kentucky Derby, her favorite sporting event of all time?
Not one of these things was on her list of "things Renee didn't do for me." It's all on me; I know that. But they're all part of my answer to the original question: how are you?
I'm hanging in. Doing what needs to be done. I'm laughing; I'm crying. I'm not great but I guess I'm okay. I miss her.