My mother passed away around 4:00 in the morning on August 30, 2011 and after the morgue came to retrieve her body, about an hour later, in preparation for cremation, I laid on her couch in the dark, staring up at the ceiling for what seemed like an eternity. I couldn’t bring myself to fall back asleep so some of my mother’s words of wisdom came to mind, “I spent a lot of time in water.” She told me this in reference to going through some difficult times in her life. I picked myself up off the couch and made my way to the newly restored bathroom my mama had completed just a few months prior. I ran the bath water and soaked for, again, what seemed like an eternity.
It’s difficult to even explain to anyone in detail what that first agonizing twenty-four hours without my mother was like. I could perhaps say that it was synonymous with being a zombie – I don’t remember blinking much, talking much or eating much. After spending some time in water, I dressed myself and walked, morosely, down the street to Panera Bread for my mama and I’s favorite, a breakfast soufflé. I carried my journal with the intent to write to her while I ate, to pretend that she was sitting jovially across from me and I was simply talking to her. As I picked at my artichoke soufflé, I suddenly realized I was surrounded by lots of people – by families. This instantly instilled me with an anxiety I had never before experienced until that very moment and would experience time and time again. I quickly wiped an escaped tear from my under eye and gathered my belongings to walk back to the house.
As I placed one foot in front of the other, my head hung low and my breathing uneven, I loomed toward the side driveway where I aimlessly sat down upon the stone rock wall that framed the garage door. It was approaching seven in the morning at that point and I happened to look up. The sky was absolutely breathtaking with its vibrant hues of purple and pink and its wispy cirrus clouds welcoming the day’s sunshine upon their magical rug.
I was promptly filled with intense, mixed emotions. I wondered how the heavens could be so glorious when they just robbed me of my mother, my best friend – the most important person in my life? I was angry at Nature, almost envious – I wanted to inflict pain upon this intangible entity. I also thought to myself that it was my mother’s way of shining her beauty down upon us all, trying with all her might to let us know that she’s alright, that she’s in a better place. One can see how these emotions and contemplations became a bit confusing to an idealistic human being who was now facing the rest of her life as an orphan.
I conducted the rest of that day in much of the same manner, although most of the afternoon and early evening remains a blur to me today as I try to recall it in detail. It wasn’t until bedtime that the reality of the situation became apparent in a physical way. My day of silence and zombie-esque behavior were nixed by a sudden onslaught of nausea. I ran to the toilet as fast as I could, violently puking my way into a cold sweat. Perspiration was adhering itself to my entire body, especially my face. That’s when the convulsions began. I feebly made my way to the guest bedroom where my body began shaking aggressively and had there been light, I am certain I was as pale as a ghost. I lie there for, once again, what felt like an eternity, shuddering and perspiring, wishing my mother were there to take care of me. Eventually and gratefully, I fell into a peaceful slumber.
You know those rare mornings when you wake up and you can’t remember where you are at right away and/or you can’t immediately gather previous facts and events? The following morning, after falling ill, I awoke to what would be the very first time I would have to recall the tragic events of only a day prior. As my sleepy eyes fluttered opened to the morning light, everything seemed perfectly as it had been for the past twenty-six years of my life…until my mind reconnected with reality and I remembered – Day 1 without my mama. I wanted to close my eyes again and die.