Dead mother. An abyss I could not concieve until I experienced it. March 29th is a portentious date in my life–really the entire maw of March if I tell the truth of the last five years. Grief, to me, is a muddy thing with crystal bubbles. My mother left this world 5 years ago on March 29th. I cannot type those words without tears. Crazy. I practically killed her.

When my Grandma prepared her exit strategy, I believed life had birthed the culmunation of pain. Her descent unravelled all the veins of my family. Decades of family functions, holiday celebrations, comaraderie, commisery, cousins, preparations and additions. Gone. It took five years for multiple cancers, strokes and dementias for my Grandma to shake through her Parkinsonian finale. In year one, a cousin absconded with her person and subsequently revised “her” final wishes. There were legal shylocks, horrible physical side effects, a suicide, familial estrangement, and lacerating intergenerational intrigue. I drank through it all. The best buddy I had ever had in the world was sick and so far away, and I did not have the finances or the power to fight the world or the god that called her back. My mother saw me through it all. Here’s the shitty part. I treated my mother poorly. It was all about me and how I knew what was best for the care of my Grandma, the restructuring of my family, the righting of past wrongs. –Pure arrogance spiced with cruelty only found in mother/daughter relationships. I appropriated my mother’s mother–always had. Something basic in what I now know to be ego had to find an “other” and I paired with my mother’s “other” to objectify my mother as . . . other. Fucked up, huh?

On the cusp of change, Bonnie Neff, my mother began revising wills, nagging me about my alcoholism, preparing me for . . . something. I did not have the time to pay attention. I held a teaching position in an affluent district, I had a full-time personal codependency, I was grieving my Grandma–I was the yearbook advisor for Christ sake. When February of 2007 hit, my ego had whipped up the mental, physical and spiritual energy of me into a delusion so complete, absurdism equated reality. I neither paid attention to my mother when she related what were to be her final financial decisions, nor did I hear her tone, not even in the last days of March when Connecticut can be especially cruel did I hear California preparing to wisk away the woman who idolized me, loved me like no human soul will ever again and forgave me without condition. I was drunk all the time. I think I sensed but could not mentally articulate the inevitable. I took notes because blackouts had become my way of conversing. I began recording conversations during Grandma’s illness because pain compels an anethetic; a cousin and a lawyer could convince me that what had actually happened was otherwise–I am weak that way. I sense delusion, but it is the nature of a disease centered in the brain that I cannot KNOW delusion. It kinda sucks. In that way, I sensed my mother was going to die, but could not realize it. The dichotomy splashed an incomprehensible pain over me. And what did I do in March? I edited a highschool yearbook, and drank. I know what I said to my mother in that kitchen as I crooked the phone to my ear and parroted out blythe aphorisms to the paramount soul with whom God had paired me because I wrote it all down.

I was Macbeth; her timing was bad. I joked with her that she could keep all her jewelry, just not die, and we’d call it square. No one dies at 64. Phone calls with neighbors, doctors, the patient, and brother ended with, “Come home now,” –journey to a place from which I had been running for two decades. I did what I do in airports and barely made my way to Eisenhower, still genuinely deluded into an underdog sense of comeback. What do I remember walking into the–was it intensive care? Maybe it was just the wait to die room. My mother’s face registered with mine. Something had gone wrong. My legs took me to her side, she raised a finger to her temple and a different voice said, “The MRI–they fucked up–too much dye.” She struggled to articulate. When she told me I shouldn’t have come, all the meaness went out of me. To this day, I struggle to understand what that meaness in me was about. “I shouldn’t have come?” I told her. “Oh shut-up. I love you. You’re sick and you’re gonna get better.” That’s when one sucks it up and acts as if this is some easy shit. I swam in electricity–would have done anything, anything to not know that this was it. “How are you?” she asks. Fiction, fiction, fiction. Oh God did I lie. Truth: It was only a matter of time in Connecticut–tick tock before the complete disintegration. But in that cold, curtained, beeping, aneseptic, waxed, metallic reality, I chatted and pretended that the thing I could not fathom was not channeling my mother on some abstract river reverently and steadily away. I put my hands on her face and hair and just felt. The pressure and the power of the ocean everywhere–BE the only option there as DO had no place anymore. I listened to her tell of spectral visits from Cousin Micky and from her father. (The whole Grandma thing nixed an earthly Micky thing not too many years earlier–see above), so I was glad to hear angels coming to their senses, but again I was on the surface of the experience. When Mom saw Grandma and Grandpa Pearson at the foot of the bed, one of those crystal moments in mud happened. The veil is an illusion. We are all present in reality. As my mother focused and spoke, I knew those souls were tangible beyond her blanketed toes; I knew I witnessed her realization of their attendance. Until then, the great grandparents of my mother comprised one photo in the album. They transcended the glossy print. And became real.

I cannot complete this entry now–I must go to work. It is my intent to finish this evening, but It goes up today. March 29th.

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