The sun bursts through the pale white drapes, giving its last bright beams of light before settling in for the night. Its iridescent rays make me squint and I know that within ten minutes, darkness will fall. As the individual flickers faintly disappear across the beige walls, I can feel my shards of anxiety go with them. One by one, my nerves begin to settle.
5 pm has always been my time to slow down for the day and self soothe. As a child, 5pm was when I’d happily lie down on the black and white tiled linoleum, hands propped up under my chin, knees bent, ankles freely swaying back and forth, anticipating the latest episode of Batman. A half-hour into the show, I’d hear my Mom’s jingle of her keys at the front door. She’d hurry in and all would be well with the world. After a quick kiss and hello, she’d leave me to my show and I’d hear her fill in my Nanny on everything that happened at work that day. Then it would be supper at our quaint kitchen table, perhaps a long walk with our dog afterward, a round of roller-skating up and down the block or a few games of red light, green light with the neighborhood kids, and then we’d retreat inside for bath time.
Long days at grammar school meshed into longer days at high school, but 5pm was always a time to look forward to because my mom was soon coming home. No matter what happened that day, we could hash it out together in front of the black and white TV set on the kitchen table.
Years later, I recreated everything about my childhood days, from the TV on the kitchen table to the sharing our days during dinner with my own kids.
It’s now been 6 months since my Mom went home, the supreme home and I can’t stop thinking about all my childhood memories … and teen memories and memories of her with my kids 10 years ago, 5 years ago, last year. I used to break down in a puddle every time these thoughts popped up (which was more often than even imaginable) but now I am actively trying to stuff my sorrow. I can’t say this is any better. It’s just different. There is no rulebook for losing your mother. How can there be? She was the one constant, loving person with me my entire life, my biggest cheerleader, my confidant and best friend in every sense of the word. There is an emptiness inside me that verges on inconsolable.
Yet many times, I can feel her with me. There have been so many signs from her that I know without a doubt was her way of giving me comfort or saying hello. There were even times over the past few months when she would make me laugh and I know it was her, totally and fully.
These 6 months without her have felt like living in black and white with no hint of color let alone Technicolor. But here’s the thing: I know she would want me to seek out the brightest 3D I could find. She’d want me to live my life to the fullest in every possible way.
In the silence of the 5pm hour now, when the kids are out and I turn off my TV and allow myself to bathe in the silence, I can almost hear nudging me along, telling me she is always with me, and for the moment I feel better.
They say that in death, the spirit does not die, it simply changes and leaves the body. Apparently the spirit that loved Elvis and potato salad and pretty pink flowers still exists, just as it did in the body, only it’s in a whole new, yet nearby realm. This thought comforts me.
Sometimes, I’ll talk to Mom and I know she hears me. My sister and I have gotten confirmation of that, repeatedly.
So I am trying fervently, desperately, to adjust to this new relationship with Mom on the other side. It is the very hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Many times, in those moments, through unbridled tears, I hear her saying “Danielle, I am right here.”
I know you are, Ma.