November 20, 2011
88 5 KPLU. Right here at 88 5 KPLU. The rest of what the announcer says is unintelligible. I wait for the music. The piano, each key given its full measure, then notes that overlap. The saxophone player plaintively draws sound from his instrument.
Then it is over.
And in the time between two songs I am carried from one thought in time to another.
“You should have gone to see her when she had meningitis. When she was hospitalized in Virginia.” JoAnn told me.
Why bring this up now? Four years later. One week after I got the call, “I’m sorry. There is nothing we could do. Your daughter has passed away.”
Your daughter has passed away. Your daughter has died. I am sorry. There was nothing we could do.
I could not defend myself. Guilty. I should have gone to see you in Norfolk when you were in the hospital with meningitis. Why did she feel the need to remind me?
I was seatbelted into the beige leather passenger seat in her Jaguar. Folded in my lap were a pair of your sweatpants, a black t-shirt that said “Worst Pirate Ever”, a pile of cards and letters friends and family wrote you at your memorial service, your baby blanket, some pictures of Sadie, the teddy bear I bought you the day before you died.
JoAnn was driving me to Funeral Alternatives. Your body was back from the University of Washington where your autopsy was performed. You waited your turn for cremation. Even in death there was a line.
Dean was at home, drinking champagne and orange juice with Jake and Kim. Making breakfast. He was already toasted.
Those things in my lap were what I was sending with you as they slid you in the crematorium. Ashes to Ashes.
I did not want to be buckled in the passenger seat of my friend’s Jaguar taking my daughter her burying clothes.
I should have flown to Norfolk right after you called me from the emergency room.
That’s what a perfect mother would do.
That’s what any mother would do.
The stones stacked heavy on my chest already crush my heart. This additional rock makes it difficult to breathe.
So many factors go into a decision.
The doctors told me they had things under control. You would only be in the hospital for a few days. You would need someone to take care of you when you got out.
A husband who drank Stoli, ouzo, Aalborg Aquavit Bloody Mary’s and watched Jerry Springer and Hitler shows all day.
A full time job representing men and women whose hearings in family court would determine whether they got to see their kids. How much money they could count on to buy milk and Cheerios. How much money they would have to pay. Court dates every Friday. All that would have to be postponed and rearranged.
Two dogs whelping puppies—one that had been torn open after Dean let her and her mother out together, knowing they needed to be kept separate. One whose pregnancy was accidental because Dean had let her father in with her when she was fertile. All while I was with you in Hawaii in December and he was semi sober.
And then the thing I could not tell you about, I never told you about—Dean’s affair.
I was trying to figure out how to leave him.
And you needed me to come to you.
I should have left everything.
I bought a first class ticket to fly you home. I called and arranged for visiting nurse services to monitor your PICC line and blood levels. I cleaned out the master bedroom so you would have a quiet place to rest while you recuperated. I disinfected everything and bought air cleaners to filter any particles could cause you problems.
I did not fly to Norfolk.
I should have.
I am sorry.