Been back in Wellington for two months now, pretty much as long as I was away. It’s freezing cold here, just the start of winter, and I have a wool cardigan, two pairs of socks, and both the heaters on tonight. My friend Theresa is visiting until Wednesday. I just got back from dance class and have been working on the video for my song, eating apple crumble with Greek yogurt and drinking a hot lemon-honey-ginger.
Soon it will be the solstice, and they’ll turn (slowly) towards winter in Florida, and even in Wellington I guess it will be summer again at some point. I shiver and put on another pair of socks, and I call Mom every day, or every other day. Sometimes she can talk with me just fine and asks me how I’m doing, and other times she’s too confused or too upset or too disoriented and there’s nothing to do but tell her I love her, there in my open office, and hang up and close my eyes for a second and get on with my morning. The initial follow-up MRI was positive, I remind myself, thinking of the unfamiliar Central Florida trees and flowers, so different to tropical Miami. My sister is going to call the neurologist again tomorrow. I am going to go for a visit in November.
I work on the video and call the plumber and go to the dentist and go to parties and plays. People still ask me how she’s doing, and I try to keep it to the short version because who wants to hear all this? She sometimes can’t tell what time of day it is. I stare off into space at work and try to think about anything else. She sometimes can’t use the telephone. I freak out over nothing, cry for no reason. She sometimes goes for walks and holds my nephew and chats unconcernedly to me about the book she’s reading or the cats or her trip to Target with my sister. Maybe if I was there, I think to myself. Maybe I could fix it, maybe I could stop it, maybe I could change it. Maybe maybe maybe. “She’s as well as can be expected,” I tell my concerned friends.
I miss her. I miss her. I think about other things and I talk to her every day—-something I haven’t done since I was about eighteen, probably—-but I miss her miss her miss her miss her. I miss the series of emails she sent me a couple of years ago—before the tumour?—when she told me all about learning Spanish and living in Mexico in the 60s. I miss when she sent me flannel sheets–the postage was twice what they were worth—-so that I would be warm in winter. I miss being able to ask her advice. It’s her voice on the phone, on video chat, it’s her there telling me that she feels tired and unsure of what’s going on, but I miss her all the same. Where did she go? I am here, on the other side of the phone, on the the other side of the world, but where is she?
This isn’t going to end. Or wait, no, wait: this is going to end, one day, but not until then.
I’ll fill my hot water bottles and get into bed with a book, I guess. I’ll call her tomorrow. I’ll miss her some more, even when I’m on the phone with her, and more and more and more and more.
Oh, Mom. It isn’t supposed to be like this.