It has been two weeks, five days, one hour, and five minutes since that jeep wheeled around and hit mom’s car head on.
It has been two weeks, five days, and thirty-five minutes since the EMT followed the cochlear implant directions on my voicemail and sent me a text telling me to have someone call her.
It has been two weeks, five days, and eleven minutes since we started out to meet them at the hospital.
It has been two weeks, four days, twenty-two hours, and three minutes since my brother embraced me in trauma room five.
And we wept.
Nathan and I decorated her house for Christmas one day after Thanksgiving. Kirk’s family came for Christmas, and mom said it was the best Christmas she had ever had.
She said it was the perfect Christmas.
On New Year’s Day, Nathan and I walked our dogs, all of us bundled up, including Neitzsche in a new sweater mom had gotten him, and we ended our walk at mom’s house. It had begun to snow, just spitting flurries, as we arrived, and so she made us chili to warm up.
While she did that, we tried to be good children, taking down the Christmas decorations and dusting and vacuuming.
She was so pleased.
But she pulled a classic mom, and wouldn’t let us take the Christmas wreaths down.
They aren’t Christmas wreaths, I tell you. They are January wreaths.
That was mom.
So we left them up for her, but packed everything else away.
We didn’t know she would be gone in less than two weeks.
We didn’t know she only had days left to live.
We didn’t know that it would be one of the last times to spend all day with her.
We did know that she was happy, that we were happy, and that we loved her.
We prayed together before parting, as we always did, laughing at her “January wreaths” on the way out.
When my brother and I had to begin cleaning out mom’s house last week, we agreed the wreaths would come down last, left as a memorial for her as long as we could get away with it, as long as they didn’t come to get her keys and give her brand new house away to someone else, someone who doesn’t even know her, someone who doesn’t know that this house was her wedding present to me and Nathan.
Today is that day.
They are coming, right now, any minute, to take the keys.
We found the garage door opener in the remains of her car, so I brought that, but it doesn’t work anymore.
Her keys are funny shaped, something I will never forget, and if I ever see keys like that shape again, then I will think of her.
She wasn’t here long.
We don’t have years of memories here.
She lived in my house longer than her three months (to the day) that she lived here.
But this was the place I could come to these last two weeks, my place to miss her, my place to cry, my place to pack up all her treasures.
It is empty now.
Like her mortal body that is no longer, this is not her house. She does not live here.
But I still came early, just to say goodbye.
Because she is not coming home.
My mom’s dream was for Nathan to live at our house, and me and her best friend Jo live with her at her house. She wanted us to be the Golden Girls. She finally decided housing was optional, because she said Nathan fit right in perfectly.
I loved my mom, even when we were exactly alike and made each other crazy.
My mom loved me, even when she missed me because of work or Nathan.
We were best friends, the two of us, from always and still, with all the ups and downs and enmeshment and differentiation that best friends require.
My phone is silent now, mostly.
No emails come.
I pace in circles without extra chores to do so I can neglect my own, and I don’t know where to walk if it is to my house.
I don’t know if I will ever eat Mexican food again. I don’t know who will love my pizza best? I don’t know how to be married, or have babies, or be a mom.
But I will tell stories of the mom I had, weaving a narrative worthy of a goodly parent, fighting tears to tell the funny things she said and did.
Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.
I love you.