Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I miss my biggest cheerleader

I put down the receiver just as quickly as I picked it up after learning I had won. I disconnected that number months ago; there would be no one on the other end to listen to my excited chatter. 

Sitting at my desk tucked away in the back corner of my newspaper office, in this small town, in the state of Massachusetts, on the East Coast, in the United States, on planet Earth, in the Milky Way Galaxy, I felt small, unconnected. With whom would I share this news who would match my own excitement?

Mum. The only correct answer is my Mum. But she's not here. And it makes this exciting moment actually painful. 

I drop the receiver in its cradle and stare at the telephone - an ancient way of communicating - choking up because I cannot use it to communicate what I want to say to the sole person to whom I want to say it.

This knee-jerk instinctual reaction to call her surprises me, because it has been three months since Mum passed away. I should have known better than to reach for the phone because I know she is not on the other end. I'm the one who disconnected the phone number, my home phone number, in December. I'm the one who called the ambulance that Friday night to transport her to the hospital. I'm the one who slept with her overnight in the ER and ICU. I'm the one Nurse Debbie called to say Mum was calling a family meeting. I'm the one who had to rally our family. I'm the one who pleaded with Mum to change her mind, that it was not her time, that it was not the right decision. I'm the one who had to instantly process that it was time, swallow my sadness and inform her siblings wearing my brave face. I slept in her room that night listening to her breathing slow. I was in the room when her breathing stopped. I held her hand until it was cold. I know she is dead. My brain can process the facts  - my body cannot and my heart refuses. 

Sitting at my desk, I felt breathless. I could feel my cheeks grow hot and searing tears form. But then the phone rang.

My friend Aimee was on the other line. We have a standing "Monday check-in."  

I relayed how she has funny timing and that I was genuinely upset about not being able to tell Mum about the news I just learned. And how that aching sadnesses outweighed the award. Nonchalantly, Aimee just said, "She knows. She's watching," in a factual tone. And that was that. She is watching.

Up until then, the thought hadn't occurred to me. She already knows I won, because she's watching.

Last weekend, award recipients were supposed to gather with the New England Newspaper and Press Association in Boston for a convention and subsequent award ceremony. I won third place in Environmental Reporting for a series of articles and an editorial I had written about our town's landfill issues. They're not particularly outstanding on their own, but together I guess they were noteworthy. Truthfully, I'm upset this article wasn't recognized, which I feel I put more time into. But I digress. 

The Nemo Blizzard prevented me from attending the ceremony and honestly, I'm glad. I had been dreading going, to an extent, because I would have been a melancholy mess. It's not that I can't share my excitement with my dads, who were siked, or with Sean, who was equally proud, but it's just not the same as sharing it with Mum. She was so proud of me when I, her beloved  "flying crime writer," won last year. She was my biggest cheerleader, whether I won a regional award or successfully cooked a tasty new dish. My prize was seeing the love on her face. 

Quiet honestly, I wish I hadn't won anything. To me, it's just the beginning of a series of firsts without her. 

I really would like to fast forward this coming year. I want to put so much distance between myself and  Nov. 3, 2012 as possible. I'd like nothing remarkable to happen this year because I don't want to remember right now. I don't want to remember this moment and this deep pain that penetrates every pore of my person. 

It's a longing, sorrowful frustration I'm forlornly fighting. Each morning I wake up feeling like I'm back at square one with handling my erratic emotions.  I'm either "on," and focused and strong and forging through this awful grieving/healing process, being a rock for myself and others, or I'm emotionally immobile simply going through the motions of what I know I need to do that particular day without being "there."

I began taking a yoga class, because internally, I need to calm down. My heart literally feels heavy. There's a dull ache in my chest that lingers on those "off" days. In November, right after she died, I went to the doctors because my chest hurt so badly I thought I had pneumonia. (My uncle had it at the time, which was another reason to go). I had an X-Ray taken. An X-Ray! It showed nothing. The pain in my chest was grief. A tangible grief.

I need to relax. I need to let go. 

But I also need to be reminded she is watching me. I talk out loud to her at least once a day. And when I catch a glimpse of the moon at night, I say "Hi, Mum!" because she loved the moon and anything astronomy related. 

On my desk, I've kept this moon card she gave me when I was in college. Then, it was taped to my wall. When I became editor in 2010, I placed it on my office shelves. I hadn't read it in years and recently picked it up because I wanted to look at her handwriting. I gasped when I read her words. "I know there will be tough days, but you will get through them fine. Every time you see the moon, it's me watching over you."  And then she quotes our favorite movie, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." 
She knew when the time came, I would severely struggle with moving forward, so she would always write notes like this, knowing I keep everything. It was such a pleasant shock to read this one I had forgotten about in a time when I need it most. 

"Every time you see the moon, it's me watching over you," she wrote. She's telling me she's watching. I just need to remember.

1 comment:

  1. This is searingly poignant. I cannot imagine what you have gone through. You will endure, though, and you will, of course, continue to cherish your mom in perpetuity.