Monday, September 28, 2009


I will never again see the bees on my dahlias without thinking of my mother. Jesse told me that she was gone and after I wailed and screamed, “You’re lying!” and “That’s not true!” and cried harder than I knew I could, I pulled myself together and went down to the dahlia jungle to calm myself before telling my children. The bees were swarming-an orgy of bees danced across each bloom and I stared in disbelief, sure that the world she‘d left behind shouldn‘t still hold such beautiful things. Lighting my cigarette, I inhaled poison and exhaled hatred like a dragon and tried my damnedest to self-destruct.

The next day, Natalie and I went to Mom’s apartment to pick up her cats. I stopped at the Holiday station on the corner for a soda and more cigarettes. I wandered to the refrigerated cases at the back, feeling like I was walking through water, looking at everything around me without really seeing any of it until I began to scan the beverages. My eye landed on bottles of Fuse, labeled “Slenderize” and “Replenish” and I wondered dully why they didn’t have one called “Grieve”.

I will miss her eyes, and her pierced ears, and the beauty mark under her left eyebrow. I will miss the way she smelled, and how it felt when we kissed one another hello and goodbye. I will miss her arms around me and what it felt like to climb into bed with her. I will miss her laugh and her smile and the way she used to twist her mouth to be funny. I will miss laying my head against her breast while she stroked my hair or held my face in her hands and kissed me over and over. I will miss her fingernails and her toenails and her heels and her elbows. I will miss how she called, “Ange!” and how she’d tell the kids, “Come to The Nani!” I miss the world that had my mother in it, the security in that, the every-day-ness of that. I don’t want to forget.

I want to remember that she was more than all of the good things, too. She was demanding and manipulative, jealous. She could hold a grudge like she’d invented them. What I loved is that when you combined the good with the bad, (her cleverness, her sense of humor, her kindness, generosity and love for her family, her talent, her sense of style, her organizational skills, her complete and total mastery of the English language) she was the kind of fascinating, complicated, beautiful woman that inspires songs and tortured poetry.

Now every song on the radio is about her. A moth lands on my arm and I wonder if it’s a sign from Mom, letting me know that she’s not afraid of them anymore. Or maybe it’s the sun breaking through the clouds or the stranger who held me and prayed when I broke down crying in Target’s parking lot. I am looking for her everywhere.