Last year or the year before my mother called on my birthday and got my cell phone. She sang me a message, which I’ve been saving every 21 days as it gets close to expiration in my voice mail.
I’ve been terrified of hearing it. So I listened to it tonight, in my hotel room, a day early. Just to get it over with. I was already crying, what more could it hurt?
Her voice. Her New Zealand accent. She sang, and said she hoped she talked to me later, and told me to have a lovely day.
Her voice was so damn quick on the machine. So bright. So her.
Now that I’ve started typing, I can’t stop crying.
I’ve been doing so WELL. Being up here working the fires has been great. I’m so far from anything I know, anything I love. I’m so busy and working so hard, learning so much, for long hours. It’s driven most other thoughts out of my mind.
My room looks over the Eel River, and the fog is rolling in for the night. I don’t know what to do. I love fireworks, never miss them, but do I want to go chase them tonight? In a strange town? I did hear where there’ll be a show, but do I want to be around that many happy little families? I don’t think I do.
So. Now I’ve been sitting here for long minutes, staring at this post, watching the fog roll in and the parking lot below fill up with firefighters from all over the nation. I keep writing sentences and erasing them. For some reason, whenever I’m sad about Mom and writing about it here, I think about that ugly email I got the night Mom first got sick (don’t go looking for it — all reference has been deleted). Sometimes now, when writing about Mom, my words feel stifled. I don’t want that person to ever read my blog and gloat, reveling that all isn’t perfect in my world. But sitting here, watching the sky, I just decided I’m going to stop thinking like that. All is perfect and just as it is supposed to be in my world, even with the loss of one of my favorite people. Underneath the grief, I am happy, as usual, and it makes me sad that there are people out there in the world, who deliberately try to cause other people pain. She even took her email a little further that same awful week, in something I won’t write about here — she was trying yet again to cause pain, but of course she failed in a big way. I’m glad she failed, because she was just being mean-spirited and small. But it makes me sad that she’s that sad. It has to be sadness, right? That makes people want to be mean for the fun of it, that disguises itself as mad or hot-tempered or aggrievedly self-righteous or just mean? It’s just sadness. It kind of sounds weird, I know, but it makes my heart hurt even more that some people are THIS SAD all the time. That the way I feel tonight is what maybe she feels all the time. I wish that weren’t so. For anyone, ever.
Whew. Now that I’ve thought that out, dealt with the strange feeling that’s been holding back my words sometimes, I feel better. The sky outside my window is GORGEOUS now, all pink fog rising above the steely river, the redwoods slanting into the hills. I’m not going to watch fireworks, and I’m fine with that. This year’s holidays will be hard, and this is no small exception. So I’ve run a bath, and I’m going to read my book, and then I’m going to get into my HUGE high-thread-count nice-hotel sheets and watch more ANTM online, because contrary to what Lala says, America’s Next Top Model is a better grief tool than old kung-fu movies. Any day. Happy fourth. Tomorrow, happy birthday to me (with all this overtime I’m making up here, I’m getting myself a big ole MOM tattoo. See if I won’t). And my birthday wish is peace and joy to all who need it. That’s a good wish. Yes.
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