A Tabletop Tree

This is the only thing in my home that even hints at what time of the year it is.

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Just a tabletop tree with a string of dollar store lights, with two angel ornaments, gifts from the funeral home.

And a photo of my parents on their wedding day.

No Santa, holiday cheer or bright lights this year. I couldn’t get myself to drag out the boxes of Christmas decorations that I have upstairs in the hallway closet and sort through all of the memories.

This was the best that I could pull off.

Christmas Jello

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Despite my best efforts, I had an epic meltdown last night.

The thing that triggered it was that my daughter lost her Cleveland State graduation tickets. Drama and chaos ensued as we both tore through the house, looking in places that seemed ridiculous (silverware drawer) for them.

(She’s graduating on Sunday with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and of course, I’m so proud of her.)

“You didn’t accidentally throw them away, did you?” she asked me, desperation and accusation in her voice.

Oh, the way children can break their mother’s hearts.

“Not that I am aware of,” I replied, trying to keep my hurt from showing.

Well, we didn’t find them.

It was too late for her to contact the college to see about getting replacement tickets, although she did try, all she got was a recorded message saying that the office was closed.

I reasoned that they would understand and give her more (she only needs 7) but she freaked out and said that they wouldn’t grant her any. Everyone was going to be mad at her and she was such a basket-case over the entire ordeal that I became quietly angry and absolutely speechless.

I went out onto the patio. In the freezing, bitter cold darkness, I took a few deep inhales of the marijuana that I splurged on for the holidays and then exhaled slowly, watching the smoke go higher as the wind took it away.

Fuck it. Fuck this.

I was angry, bereft, depressed and wishing that I could disappear up into the clouds with the plumes myself.

Once I came back inside, I started crying so hard that I thought my body would dehydrate. I was so scared, I was am so lost. I wanted to talk to somebody, but it was after 10 PM and I didn’t want to bother anyone with my intense grief and feelings of despair.

How can I continue to live without her? How will I fulfill the promise that I made to my mom before they wheeled her away for that last pointless surgery?

These thoughts turned my blood as cold as the ice that has formed in the outside water bowl for my dogs.

There will be an extra unused ticket for my daughter’s graduation.

There will be no present under the tree that says “mom” on the tag.

There will be an empty seat at the dinner table.

If one more person tells me that she’s in heaven now with God, I’m going to scream.

Everything feels different now and nothing will ever be the same again without our matriarch leading the way, with her intense joy of having us all together on Christmas Day. My mother loved Christmas and now that she’s dead, I have no desire to buy gifts or make Christmas jello-like she always asked me to do.

Red and green squares, topped with Cool Whip. Sugar-free due to being diabetics and the fact that nobody else ate it but the two of us.

The numbness that comes after death to protect us from the shock is hanging out above the treetops where my marijuana smoke still lingers, too high for me to reach and put on like a safety cloak.


The office has more tickets for my daughter to pick up after work today, so I won’t have to fight and argue my way inside like I was planning to do. I had nothing left to lose and no lack of ticket would’ve kept me from watching her graduate.

I need to be there to take photos and a video. I need to represent my deceased mother, who wanted so badly to watch her first grandchild achieve something so monumental.

Nobody seems to understand how I am feeling right now and I crave solitude so badly that I can taste it like the Christmas jello from last year, sweet on my tongue, yet this year, bitter in my soul.

I Carry On

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My daughter has been sick the last couple of days with a nasty stomach flu.

And as her mother, I’ve been tending to her while she rests on the couch, rather miserable.

It doesn’t matter that she’ll be 23 years old next month. She’s still my baby girl and as long as I am able, I will take care of her.

Because that’s what a mother does for her child.

Taking care of my sick little girl (she’ll always be little to me) makes me realize how incredibly lucky I am to have this kind of love in my life.

I miss my own mom more and more as each day passes.

Yet I carry on…as she once did for me.