There is a lot to discuss here. I haven’t written since I posted about my mother’s death, being otherwise preoccupied, but there is more to say. I should write about her last night, but I’m not sure this is the space for it – my family reads this, and it was a hard night for all of us. As an artist, I’m compelled to take the events of that evening and wring them out into a story here, to feel it all over again and explore it and face up to it and work through it. As my mother’s daughter, I’ve been avoiding it.
I took pictures that night. The last one, two hours before she died, like a pieta with Tammie sleeping at her side. I have not turned my camera on since then. I haven’t looked at the pictures. I satisfied the compulsion to document, but have not revisited it.
The two memorials were lovely. Friday night was a celebration of my mother’s life. I put together a slideshow of pictures (you can see them at Flickr) and there was a cash bar. So for three hours, I held a drink in my hand and greeted people and watched my mother’s face change and flash on the screen.
SÃ© and Maria-Elena came up for the Saturday memorial. It was the first time I’d seen Maria outside of Europe. I forget she’s a California girl. I spent the weekend surrounded by friends and family.
People keep asking me how I’m doing. I tell them I’m fine. They tell me that when it finally hits me, they will be there. I was talking to Josh about it, and I think I hit on why I haven’t broken down completely. I miss my mother. But I would not have wanted her to live a day longer than she had to with the pain of her illness, and it makes her death carry a peacefulness I could not anticipate in those long days when I was dreading her going.
I awoke from a dream this morning. My mother was with me, and we were talking. I knew she was a ghost, knew she was dead. In my dream, she looked as she did two years ago, flush and healthy, her hair at her shoulders. She was telling me how nice it was to be free from the illness, and she was driving me somewhere in her car. I suddenly realised she was driving because she was worried about me taking care of myself. I asked her “Mom, is this a test? Because it’s okay. You can pull over, and I’ll drive us.” I woke up before she pulled over, after she admitted that yes, it was a test. I think she will be in my dreams for a long time, but I also think I passed the test.
I leave for Kansas City tonight, with Josh. He flew in to Ontario the day she died, and we haven’t been apart a day since. We will pack up our apartment, get the cat, and drive back across the highways that brought us to the midwest five years ago. It seems fitting to begin a new phase of this chronicle with a night in an airport, and then a long trek across the country. I will have my camera. I will have my pen. I will write it all down, just like I promised.
You can read a piece I wrote in 2002 called “The 1600 Mile Purge” about leaving California for Kansas City.