09 June 2009

The way things happened.

I always promised myself that I would be there, holding her hand.  I would be the only one near to hear those last whispered breaths, and they would say, "Thank you."  I would hear the machines and know that I did all I could.  I imagined trails of tears, screaming her name, nurses comforting me, people calling it the biggest tragedy that they've ever seen. 
There was nothing of the sort.  I was there, I was there all night on her last night, but I wasn't there for the last breath.  I didn't hear what she whispered.  I cried, but there were no nurses to soothe the pain.  No one called it a tragedy.  Why? Because the death of an old woman is not a tragedy.  

I always imagined that when we sold the house I would spend days and days crying in every single room.  I imagined just sitting in the middle of her room where her bed used to be, pretending she was there.  I imagined standing at the kitchen window, looking out at the street, and pretending to see red roses in the planter.  I imagined not being able to leave, not being able to ever drive past the house without turning down the driveway.  I imagined not being able to part with the keys, not being able to think about someone living in her room and cooking at her stove without vomiting.  
There was crying, but not in every room.  It was one single tear, as I hauled the last box of books upstairs, and out the door.  I couldn't pull myself to look out that window, because I knew there were no red roses.  I never vomited at the thought of someone living in her room, I drive by that house all the time.  But I still have my set of keys.

I always imagined getting older would come naturally, like waking up in the morning.  I always imagined that it would all fall into place, that I would be able to accept the things that I cannot change.  I thought I'd be able to understand the wrinkles on my mother's face, or the way in which my father rubs his knees at night.  I thought I'd be able to feel what it is you're supposed to feel, I thought I'd be where I was supposed to be, or at least know where that place was.  

"Don't expect any answers dear, for I know that they don't come with age."
-Janis Joplin
The imagination is such a witty device.  Isn't it funny how things turn out to be?

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