I was leaving the event, tired and not looking forward to the long drive home. I wasn’t sure what to say anyway. Maybe I will just walk by and pretend I didn’t see her. No luck. I feel her tug my left jacket sleeve twice.
“Hi… How are you doing?”
“Ok, I guess. Or as good as could be expected.”
“I’m very sorry to hear about your mom.” I choked back a tear that seemed to travel to my throat instead of finding it’s way out of my right eye. Thankfully. She wouldn’t see it there. God knows I wasn’t really opening my mouth very much.
I hate talking about death. I hate losing people. I guess I don’t fear it, I just am tired of talking about it.
Fear is a funny word. I think I just let it become more if a nuisance than anything. And I change the subject. A lot.
I thought about the last time I saw her mom. She looked frail and thin. She was so pretty.
I looked down at my phone and told her I had to run… I was going to be late.
For what, I don’t know… but I knew it would allow me to leave without feeling rude.
If I was rude, I didn’t notice. And I hoped she didn’t either.
Time is always the best excuse.
Another tear got trapped in my throat… waiting to see if it was free to flow out.
I made sure it heard me.
The picture of my mom on my phone came up when I checked the time. Her beautiful smile.
Her gorgeous eyes. I turned to leave. Tear in the throat number three…
Again, that tug. This time my right sleeve.
“How’s your mom, Jen?”
“Tell her I said Hi…”
There it was. The dreaded request.
“I will. Thanks.”
Off I hurried…. to no where in particular.
I went out to my car and sat there. Wondering where I was going to go, I looked at my phone again. Her eyes told me a story.
This time, the tear found the corner of my eye.
I kept fighting.
After 18 minutes, I started driving.
To nowhere in particular, I was doing 68 in a 55.
I was on a mission.
Maybe it was me being lost.
Maybe I just wanted everything to go back to “normal”…
Maybe I had a need to see or hear or touch her.
Maybe, it was just that I wasn’t sure where I was going and felt like I would figure it out if I drove faster….
Maybe I was just in denial.
Life continued to whiz by me, tractor trailers and buses in the right lane beside me. I felt like I was standing still.
Tell her I said hi….
Part of me wanted to say, no…. YOU tell her. But instead, I just hurried off so as not to be late.
For something. Nothing. Anything.
I just wanted to get out of the grasp of the tug.
So much of the beginning stages of my understanding my mom’s disease was denial. It was the realization that at the age of 29 I was told my mom was going to die a slow death in front of my eyes and I couldn’t do anything but watch it happen.
I just wanted to get away from it all.
I ran, I drove, I kept my mouth closed for a couple years.
I cried choked up tears and silent sobs. I wanted to make it all go away.
I wanted to hurry up and be ok with the process.
I barely went to visit. I was scared of what it would look like.
I didn’t want to be the one to tell her anyone said hi, let alone me.
Then it hit me…
I can’t control the outcome…. but what I can control is my process through it.
I can control how I react to it and what I do to make it easier.
Driving home that night I took a detour.
I drove straight to my parents instead. I wanted to see her. I wanted to be there. I wanted her to know I didn’t really run away.
I just was “Busy.”
And when I had enough, I would leave because I was busy.
I have kept busy. I have hurried along from place to place.
But one thing that has changed in my growing process through all of it is my ability to just be there.
I am busier than ever and have seen my mom more lately than I have since she’s been sick.
I am comfortable where I am with the process.
And I tell her hi… every time I see her.
Usually at least 18 times.