The phone rang. It happens. My phone makes Star Wars noises that let me know another human being wishes to talk to me. Typically I don’t answer because talking to humans annoys me. This call, however, was local, and I was expecting some calls from unknown numbers so I answered it.
It was a nurse from the local hospital. She was calling to schedule a test my doctor had ordered. No big deal, right? I can handle this. I think.
She asks if we can do a preregistration over the phone. Sure, I thought, why not?
I verify my date of birth, social security number, blood type, gender, hair color, monthly income, insurance, weight, eye color, sexual orientation, gender identity, laundry detergent preference, and shoe size. She then asks me about my next of kin. For a moment I was puzzled. The test I was scheduling isn’t life-threatening and I wasn’t quite sure why my next-of-kin needed to be verified. Then they told me my existing next-of-kin was my mother.
My whole world stopped for a moment. I lost my voice. I couldn’t respond. I eventually asked if they really needed my next-of-kin or just an emergency contact. The very peppy lady advised me that Baby A was my emergency contact, but helpfully offered to switch them if I so desired.
I momentarily forgot how to speak again. Eventually, I found my voice and told her that my mother had passed away. Her tone turned somber for a moment as she apologized for my loss, but immediately turned peppy again as she advised me she would make Baby A my, well, everything.
I was in a good mood before this phone call. I had had a yummy breakfast and a nice, steaming cup of coffee (with extra caffeine!). This unwitting woman’s mention of my mother’s name derailed all happy thoughts I had and not long after I felt myself on the precipice of tears.
While I was at work last week a 27×40 collage I’d made of my mother fell from my dining room wall and broke. I came home from work and cursed the sight I beheld on the floor. I immediately ordered a replacement frame on Amazon. It arrived on Christmas Eve. I set to work moving my mother’s pictures into this new frame, but the damage had been done. This was my first Christmas without her. The pictures conjured memories of moments I’d never experience again. Her laugh. Her smile. Her ‘look’ she shot towards me any time I purposely said something she’d disapprove of just to get that ‘look’.
I lost myself in tears and pictures.
This has happened more times than I can count in the last few months. A thought. A song. A picture. A memory. The mere mention of someone’s mom. Something, anything, will trigger my memory of her and I’ll end up with tears running down my face as I scroll through pictures of her. I basically have a shrine built for her in my home now. The urn which holds her ashes sits on a bookcase with pictures of her and items from her funeral. These few items mean more to me now than anything else, save my children.
During her last few months mom would sometimes lament what a burden she was on me. I can’t lie: taking care of her in addition to all of my other responsibilities was challenging, but I would gladly face that challenge again if it meant I still was able to speak to her. To hear her laugh. To hug her. To hear her tell me she loves me. Any of those things. All of those things.
I will never forget her, obviously. She was, and still is, mommy. She carried me for almost 10 months. She fed me. Changed my diapers. Taught me how to walk. Washed my clothes. Put her foot down when I was out of line. Most importantly of all, she loved me unconditionally. No matter what idiotic choices I made in my life, she was always supportive.
This sucks. It sucks not having her here any more. However, I know she is now free. She is free from depression, heart disease, and diabetes.
I hope heaven is treating her well. She deserves it.
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