Andrea lost her mother to cancer nearly two years to the date after I lost mine. From a thousand miles away, I coached her through each step, how to prepare, what to do after, how to not go completely crazy, and ways to act stoic in front of her 3 year old niece.
(The greatest mask is lying to a child about everything being alright, when it’s not, and likely won’t be in the same way again.)
When it finally happened, so did the motions like tics in a clockwork. Disbelief, anger, peace, more anger, anger mixed with peace, sadness mixed with relief, alcohol, more disbelief, rise, fall, rally, succumb, new uncomfortable normalcy.
Death, like always having a rock in your shoe.
Greif, like some parasite nibbling at your heart, always.
I watched from afar a good friend live a life I knew all too well, that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. I held her hand in the best way I could given the miles.
A year after, we still talk about it in regular conversation. She’s the only one I can speak casually about death with I feel some odd gratitude because of that, like I can bring it up immediately following a fart joke without being a downer. Today, she brought up something her now four year old niece said and it struck me.
Em asked where nana was, and her brother held up the urn at his dad’s house, and told her that Nana was in there, to which Em promptly asked,
“So Nana is a magic genie?”
I don’t do the whole god thing. I don’t believe in heaven or hell, or some guy in the sky watching over us. I’d like to think there’s celestial omnipresence, and in my lowest moment I find myself praying for it’s mercy, as hypocritical as that may seem. Because of this, I’m not sure of what to say to anyone who’s not an adult when asked what happened to my mother.
So when Andrea told me what her niece said, I was struck for a moment. I never thought of my mother that way.
Rub the lamp, and you will get three wishes, as long as all those wishes are to see that person again.
And you will, though maybe not in the literal sense.
I see my mother in all places, from my facial expressions to the style of people I walking down the street. I hear her in songs on the radio and smell her in the thick musk of cigarettes. She is olive green, and esoteric scrips. She’s taking lotion, and coarse hair that curls just behind the ears.
And every time I wish for her to be there, in a weird round about way, she always is.
So your nana is there Em, just close your eyes and wish really hard three times. You will see her. You’ll be the first place she’ll go.