I think it started about a week into the new year. I was in the car with my boss, Luis, and Miguel, the real-life version of Manny from Modern Family who I've been minding for... jeez, 8 years now(!!!). We were going uptown to do some work late in the afternoon, and Luis was asking about the Holidays, I think, and how things went at my Dad's. That led Miguel to ask about my mom, and I told him that she died almost 13 years ago and we talked about the details with him for minute, how she got cancer toward the end of my senior year in high school and passed away during my freshman year of college. He's asked me about it before and has a mind like a steel trap for details such as this, but I humored the repeat questions. Then Luis told me that since the time each of his parents passed away there wasn't a day that went by when he didn't think about them, and I agreed it was the same for me. I just assume it's that kind of mix of genetics and love bestowed. It's impossible not to think about her during the day and she constantly shows up in my dreams. It's been that way my whole adult life.
Her birthday was January 10th. She would have been 67. Since the 10th, I've been remembering all these weird little snippets of things about her from being little. For instance, she used to say "you stink on hot ice." It was just a retort she would say if we were being cheeky or if something annoyed her. I don't think I've heard anyone else ever say that expression. I get what it means, you're so rotten, you stink even when frozen on dry ice. I hadn't thought about it in a long time and the the words rolled around in my head and popped out of my mouth as I was cleaning my living room. I wondered why she liked saying that so much.
Around this time, a friend of mine mentioned on FB how she was listening to the Les Mis and singing it loud and proud, and that message made me recall going to see the show on Broadway with my parents when I was in high school. At the part where Fantine's fired because her co-worker is a bitch and turns the boss against her, my mom leaned over to me and said "you know, there are people who are really like that." And I thought it was the randomest thing to say! In the middle of everything going on onstage, that's what she points out to me? But clearly this moment struck a chord with my mom and I have no idea the story behind it. (and yeah, there definitely are people like that bitch in Les Mis.)
As if all that were not enough, I went and saw Rabbit Hole last week, a movie about parents dealing with the accidental death of their young son, and it made me think about my older brother who was born prematurely and died only a few days after he was born. What happens in the movie is not like what happened with my family, but there's this part in it the movie where they talk about carrying the weight of losing a child that reminded me of my mom. It's in the stage play version of Rabbit Hole too, a copy of which I bought a couple years ago, so I'll share it below:
BECCA: The feeling. Does it ever go away?
NAT: No. I don't think it does. not for me it hasn't. And that's going on eleven years. It changes though.
NAT: I don't know. The weight of it I guess. At some point it becomes bearable. It turns into something you can crawl out from under. And carry around - like a brick in your pocket. And you forget it every once in a while, but then you reach in for whatever reason and there it is: "Oh, right. That." Which can be awful. But not all the time. Sometimes it's kinda... Not that you like it exactly, but it's what you have instead of your son, so you don't wanna let go of it either. And it doesn't go away which is...
~Rabbit Hole, by David Lindsay-Abaire
My brother Michael isn't something that we ever talked about a lot together, but we did toward the end of her illness and I know my mom thought about him every day, like I think about her every day now. Although the weight is different.
So these are a few of the things that have been swirling around in my head the past couple weeks and it brought me to a sort of conclusion. If I ever become kind of successful at writing, or kinda successful at anything, it will feel not quite right that she shouldn't be here to see it. I would like to see her enjoy me being successful. It seems like something you should earn just for raising kids. But for myself, I really just wish I could have a conversation with her as two adults. My experience of her doesn't go beyond my 18 year old self, and while my perspective on that vision of her changes as I get older, it's not the same as getting to relate to her as an adult. I don't know what that would be like. I have no idea what our relationship would be and how we'd talk to one another. And I wish that I did. I think it a valuable thing.
I miss my mom. I'm thinking of her.