I lie here wondering why, once again, I can’t sleep. I go in endless concentric circles, forbidden sleep by some force within my own mind until I’m so exhausted, day after day, I can’t stay awake and then, sleeping at the drop of a hat. Somehow, there must be a middle ground. I used to live on the middle ground. Bed by 8 pm every night, up in the morning, and over the first few months my sleeping gradually reverted back to normal. All the sleep lost over the years made right.
Which lasted until about….towards the end of the marriage and the struggle afterwards. Back to square one.
But wait. That’s not what this post is about, not really. I’m pretending, hiding, avoiding the reality that thirty-five minutes ago the clock clicked to 12:01 am and now it is June 7th, my mother’s birthday. The first birthday without her. No searching for the perfect present or baking cakes, finding the sweet treats she liked the most. My family is small. Celebrations are almost always meals, mostly at my parent’s house.
But there will be no meal this year. No one will gather, bustling in with gift bags and coolers full of food. There will be no gathering around the kitchen for the blessing, no filling plates from the counter between the kitchen and dining room. No bright paper. No candles. No laughter.
All my life, I tried to imagine what it would feel like to be without her, trying in my childish and then less than childish way to prepare myself for the dreadful moment I knew would eventually arrive. But no amount of preparations, no years of illness or the knowledge of what was to come, could possibly have prepared me for the reality of her emptiness. It couldn’t prepare any of us.
No balloons. No cards. Just sadness. Working later today. Needing to come home and accomplish something, anything, to keep from wasting away the hours of the day, minutes ticking like raindrops on glass. Each minute another tear. Each second another loss. Each tick or tock the feeling of being utterly alone in the thick dark when most children cry for their mother. I can only cry after. There is no more crying for her to come.
I would like to say there is a glaring riff in my soul, a chunk torn from my heart so large that it will never heal. That would be poetically beautiful, show me as the brave heroine standing fast against the pain. But I can’t. I don’t have a riff, just the tick tock of minutes moving me further and further away from the woman who showed me, both by example and by my refusing her example, how to be the person I have become in a world in which she has finally, inevitably, left me behind.