How much can you pack into 10 days? Mr Moggs and I decided to try to find out. We spent time in the Adirondacks, New York’s capital district, Burlington, and New York City. We fed goats, strolled through Central Park, got our Costco card, sang karaoke, met three of my long lost siblings and reunited with three I hadn’t seen in three, five, and twelve years respectively. We ate things picked that morning from the garden and things that probably never grew in the earth or in an animal. Everyday we woke to the breathtaking beauty of the southern Adirondacks. We spent time with my father and mother and saw my dad finally reunited with all his kids. On 24 September, we left with our heads full of memories and our camera memory cards full of photos. I was a little afraid that might be the last time I got to spend time with my father who has become far too frail for his years.

Instead, sometime during our flight home, probably just as we saw land again over Ireland, my mother died. She had had an exhausting week, but everyone said she was happy as she went to bed the night before. She told no one to wake her in the morning and said that she was going to sleep in. Because my sister worked and my dad can barely climb the stairs, by the time my brother-in-law became concerned, he felt he couldn’t check on her. He was alone with the kids, and even though he was worried, he couldn’t handle things on his own. He pushed the nagging fear out of his mind. My sister got home a few hours later, and my brother-in-law found Mom cold in her bed. It wasn’t unusual for her to spend long periods in her room, getting up only to get water and use the loo. And according to the autopsy, it wouldn’t have mattered if she were in the hospital with a doctor at her bedside. The aortic rupture killed her within seconds.

I was sitting in my living room, uploading photos from the trip and catching up on my soap and Mr Moggs had just finished his shower when the phone rang. We were happy and content but tired. My sister in North Carolina was on the phone. She wanted to speak to Mr Moggs, and I read in his face that something was horribly wrong soon after he took the phone.

So back I went. Well, back I went on the next available flight, which wasn’t for over a day. In the meantime I spent a lot of time in that sleepless confused shut down that sometimes happens with grief. Mr Moggs couldn’t come as this was the start of the term, and he is still swamped with work. For a little over a week, we all did what we had to do. I hated that I got angry about having to go back, but I was angry. I hated that my mom died too young. I hated that we know that she knew it was coming. I hate that my sister’s kids are without their grandmother. I hated that I was so angry at my mother for so many years.

I think now I am a bit past the anger and guilt. My family history is a bit complicated, but my biological mother died when I was just short of two years old. Lots of big complicated adult things happened, and I ended up being adopted by my biological father and his new wife. More adult complicated things happened when I was growing up. It wasn’t perfect, but I know my mom loved me. And, honestly, I loved her too.

I wish things could have been different for her. I wish she was happier in life. Oh, she wasn’t entirely miserable, but I think she was rarely happy and never content. But she was a funny woman, was faithful to those she loved, spoke her mind, and deep down had a good heart.

Mom taught me some of the better things in life. She taught me how to play games. She taught me how to colour in the lines. Her regrets about not travelling more just may have contributed to my wanderlust. I will miss her and I honestly feel a bit lost now.

The buffer between me and death is wearing away. There’s my dad and my uncle left until we are the elder generation in our family. It seems weird and unfair. Unfair that so many people in my family age too quickly and die too young, and unfair that the rest of us have had to mourn them too much. That Thanksgiving table I conjure up from when I was very young is full of ghosts, and excuse me while I rage against the sad wastefulness of it being that way.


1 Response to “Returnings”

  1. 17th Oct 2010 at 18:05

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss.
    Hope you are coping okay.

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October 2010
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