Tomorrow morning I will go to the cemetery with my husband and my son and we will bury my mother's ashes. There will be others there too: my in-laws an aunt, a cousin, some friends...a friend who is ordained will preside over a brief service. I have a remembrance (and yes, it will pop up here eventually) and maybe my son and/or husband will say something too. I'm sure it will be hot (it is after all mid-July). We will place the ashes in the ground and go home. We will have some friends over. We will have some refreshments. We will remember my mother.
But I keep forgetting.
I think I should tell her something. But she's not there to tell. I think of picking up the phone, but there is no number to call.
I know my mother is dead. I was there that last day. I saw her stop breathing. And then start again. Then stop. Then start. I thought about getting someone, a nurse, but what was the point? So I stayed. And when she finally stopped breathing and did not start again, I stood there and waited. Because I wasn't sure. Even though I knew; I wasn't sure. So I waited a few minutes. Then I pushed the nurse call button and put everything in motion.
But I waited. Nothing had changed, other than her breathing. Did I expect a change? Some sign? There was no sign. Just the ceasing of breathing.
The nursing staff came in. They were kind. (The hospice and palliative staff were the best people I encountered at the hospital. I wish everyone had their compassion and kindness.) I was shaky, but okay. Unsure exactly what to do.
Who did I call first? My father? My husband? The funeral home? I called all three in that order. I don't know what I said, but I tried to be gentle. I tried to provide a sense of calm.
I tried to listen to the funeral director, but by that time I was rather shaken and when he asked me to send him an email that would let the staff know that I had authorized him to pick up my mother's body, I wrote his email address down incorrectly. I tried to think of the correct wording; something that was professional and clear. Was this good enough? “As the daughter of E F, I am authorizing you to handle the funeral arrangements for my mother. . . As per our discussion, the deceased is currently at HMOU Medical Center in... I am entrusting you to all arrangements that need to be made to transport her from the hospital back to the funeral home. I hope I have provided all the information you need in order to do this. If you need anything further, please call me. Thank you."
I drove home to my father. I did what needed to be done. I went home to my family the next day. I made all the arrangements for tomorrow and most of the arrangements for the memorial service down at the shore on Tuesday.
I know my mother is no longer here. But I forget.
And that's hard. It's weird; how I keep forgetting. Or maybe that is not the right way to look at it. My habits are ingrained to pick up the phone and call her. I am used to doing so and I have to stop myself. I have to think. I have to remember that there is no phone call to make.
I suppose I can always talk to her though. Tomorrow at the cemetery. Tuesday at the church. Or wherever or whenever. I just won't get a response. And that hurts. I suspect it will for a long time.