In the dark of a too early morning, I crack open the door of the boys' bedroom to wake Jacob, still deeply under, in the top bunk.
I entreat him to rise with whispers, remind him to stay quiet himself, so as not to awaken his brother, asleep below, as he sits up uttering his usual first word of the day “Stupid.”
“Jacob…” I whisper-scold.
“Don’t say the bad word” he repeats in a singsong voice.
“Shhhhhhh.” I remind, again. And in a louder, more urgent whisper “Come down now, Baby, the bus will be here in a half hour and it won’t wait, you have to get ready for school.”
“Stupid” says Jacob, one more time, as he lumbers down the ladder, his ancient blue bear firmly clutched in one hand.
Then, at the bottom: “Can I have a hug, Mommy?”
And thus begins our day.
By the time Ethan is up - after three visits to his bedroom, progressing from a cheerful “good morning” through a gentle shoulder shake, the flashing on and off of lights, the radio blasting an obnoxious rock station and the (idle) threat of a cold water dousing – Jacob is long gone, sent off with a kiss onto his long bus ride to his wonderful Special-Ed school on the far, other (lower, East) side of town.
(I try not to think about it too much, because it makes me sad when I do, but, yes, my boys, my twins - due to luck, genetics, a whim of the gods of autism & neurodiversity, and probably something I ate or didn’t eat when I was seventeen - lead very separate lives.)
Ethan and I talk, always; words his currency, as they are mine.
We talk a lot or a little, depending in the day. Did the Knicks win last night? How about the Nets? Chatting away through breakfast eaten, lunch made, bags packed.
Some days I take Ethan to school, yet others I send him walking with the neighbors, two boisterous boys whose testosterone-filled company he favors lately.
Already he has begin to resist my goodbye kisses when others are present. "Mooooooom" he protests as I hand him over in the lobby, though I know tonight he will still curl up into my lap as we watch the game together, after homework has been done (please God, let the homework get done without torture tonight).
<*> <*> <*>
And then I am alone, with too much to do, but no heart for any of it.
I am supposed to be writing my mother's eulogy right now. With the snow delaying her memorial service, I have had a long time to accomplish this seeming simple task, even longer to contemplate it, as I knew, bone deep, that the end was coming soon.
And yet I just... cannot. Words are failing me.
I wrote a beautiful eulogy for my father. Poured all my love and crystal knowledge of who he was into it.
But my mother... my mother.. my mother...
All I want to do is keen and cry.
In spite of so many words spilling out of me immediately after her death, I am now experiencing my grief in a visceral, animal way.
I am angry, bereft, pained; and in no space to make pretty words of it. For even at the very end, drifting away from her memories, from the shaped, sharpened form of herself, my mother was still filled with light and love.
And when we held hands the bond between us thrummed, strong as the day that I was born and we became mother and daughter.
My mother was unwavering in her love, and the space it took up in me is now dark, hollow, memory's embers being a paltry substitute for the heat of a living presence.
And there has been, yet, barely time to mourn, so filled are my days with the minutia of things that must be done; mountains of laundry and paperwork; all the threads that I dropped when constantly dashing off to my mother's bedside must now be gathered and stitched back in, the fabric of my life holey, like tattered lace.
<*> <*> <*>
The boys mourn my mother, each in their own way.
"I see Grandma, in my brain" says Jake. And I am never sure if that means to him what it does to me. He still asks to go see her sometimes, the concept of death as a permanent state being perhaps too abstract for him to fully grasp.
Ethan and I bake blueberry muffins, Mom's perennial favorite. No matter how low her spirits or appetite, I could always entice her to eat a blueberry muffin and a cup of hot cocoa.
Come to think of it, we're drinking a lot of cocoa, too.
I raise my mug to you.
|Mom, enjoying cocoa & a muffin with me, December, 2011|