Mother’s Day, 2011
I am sitting here this morning by myself. I woke at 7, rain whispering secrets outside my bedroom window. The birds overheard and started gossiping. I tried to understand what they were saying—the rain, the birds. They speak a different language. I decided I just loved to hear them gossip. I laid there, warm beneath the down comforter, Sadie pressed against my side and listened with my eyes closed.
Today is Mother’s Day. Writing through my tears, I still cannot accept that you are dead. I make myself say “Dead.” I write it on a piece of white college lined paper in black ink a hundred times like a punishment. It feels like one.
I avoid saying “lost”, instead of dead. “Lost my daughter” makes it feel like I was negligent. Like maybe if I’d held your hand a little tighter you would not have wandered into the crowd and disappeared. “Lost” feels like I could go to that place in the department store where they keep lost children and give them a lollipop and Kleenex until their parents can be found, and see you sitting there kicking your feet back and forth, knowing I would come for you. “Lost” feels impermanent, like my sunglasses I keep losing and finding again.
Nobody wants to acknowledge death. Even as it sits across the breakfast table silently watching as we make our first cup of coffee for the day. I try to ignore it. But it is always there. Yours, my grandmothers’, my grandfathers’, my mother’s, mine.
Death nods to grief. I feel grief now, though I cannot see it. No one can. It follows me everywhere. It sits in me like too many bags of groceries carried from the car to house at one time. I cannot unload it. It wraps itself around my wrists and twists. It puts pressure on my legs and wears down the cartilage in my knees. It pulls my back away from my spine between my shoulder blades. My chest is caving in on itself. My breasts feel full, as if responding to a baby’s cry.
There is no escape. I grab a cup of coffee. I wish I had a cigarette, but I don’t smoke.
I acknowledge death and grief this mother’s morning. This is our morning.
I bring your white scuffed baby shoes, the blue plaque that reads “Miss Andrea Ortiz Peterson; Able Seaman (Watch)”, I bring the picture of you and your sister and I at her wedding where I am smiling and you both are laughing, photo albums filled with pictures on beaches, living rooms, dining room tables, and the book I Am Running Away Today you gave me when I took you to SeaTac to catch a plane to Ecuador when you were 16 and off to be an exchange student. I find the pearls Scott bought you when your ship docked in
. I put them on. I find a black t-shirt with a pirate face and the words, “Worst Pirate Ever”. I wear it and nothing else but panties and a pair of pirate socks. I tie my hair back with your black scarf with white pirate faces appearing like polka dots. Shanghai
I am rocked by the truth in this. Shaken. If seismologists could measure it, I’m sure this would be a 9.7. Everything is leveled. Lost.
Death nods at me. Shows momentary sympathy. It is just the way things are for everything living. I don’t have to accept it. But it is.
I allow the tears to fall like rain. The birds are no longer gossiping. They are simply singing.
Annalise is being blessed today. I must go get dressed now.
I love you, Mom.