Friday, October 31, 2008

"It's Alright To Cry,

crying gets the sad out of you. It's alright to cry, it might make you feel better." From the '70's animated musical Free To Be...You & Me, featuring Marlo Thomas, Mel Brooks and Alan Alda (who my mother completely adored.) A friend of mine had the record and book, so we spent a lot of time singing along. My favorite part was the exchange about gender roles between the baby boy and baby girl when Mel Brooks exclaims, "A cocktail waitress!"
I guess I thought of these lines for the obvious reason, I've been crying a lot lately. This morning I was bawling and called in to work a couple of hours late because it's my fifteenth wedding anniversary, and Halloween, and while I'd like to go out and do something fun, I just don't have the heart. I feel like curling up under the covers with a couple cases of hard liquor and not emerging until I feel better, which might be a while. Right now, I'm thinking vodka, tequila, and maybe a decent Scotch, just for variety.
Of course, I'm still hurting from my mom's death, and the legal/financial mess she left behind. And the problems NSA and I have been having don't help. And the fact that I really dislike my job, but the economy's not doing so well and I'm afraid to quit. Fuck.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


My mom died October 16th at 6:05 am. I found out about three minutes later. I was already awake when the call came, which was a little odd for me. I wasn't shocked, of course, but it's still a hell of a hit. Like when you see it coming, you have time to brace yourself, so maybe it hurts less, but it still hurts. NSA was asleep, so I took a little time before I woke him. I was in a daze for most of the morning, calling people, trying to get ready. My dad really came through for me, buying a plane ticket and making travel arrangements. I'm glad, because I don't think I could have done it myself. I wish NSA had come along, but for his health and general sanity, we decided it would be best if he stayed home and took care of himself and the kitties. The actual flying time from San Diego to Alaska is only about six hours, but with early arrivals and layovers, that stretches into around twelve hours, a long and tiring day.
I left early the next morning. From San Diego to Seattle, passengers were sparse, I had a row of seats to myself. Not so on the flight from Seattle to Anchorage, and while the guy next to me was clearly in a chatty mood, my teary face didn't encourage conversation.
I arrived at my final destination in the late afternoon, took care of some necessary paperwork, and went to see my mother. An old friend of hers was already there, keeping vigil with candles and incense. The morgue is located in the old part of the hospital; a small, locked, unlabeled room containing two horizontal refrigerators, some filing cabinets, and various bits of office equipment. It also allows access to the telephone room, a fact that I'm sure the poor repair man resented, since he had to contend with the two of us and my mom just to do his job.
She looked kind of beautiful in the candle light. Her eyes and mouth were closed (something I was worried about), brow smooth and hair sleek. Her expression was peaceful, seemingly slightly concerned, like maybe there was some small matter she had forgotten to tell me about. With the overhead fluorescents on, she was, I guess the right words are deathly pale. Except for the beds of her fingernails, which were slightly purplish, strangely dark. I sat and talked to her for awhile, not because I was sure, like her friend, that she would hear me, but because I needed to, and because it felt like the right thing to do. I told her I loved her, and that I hoped all of her questions were answered.
(More later...)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Personal and the Political

It's kind of weird when I think about it, but it seems like my life started to go off the rails about the same time the country did (and if you don't think the country is off the rails, I don't even want to look at you.) The 2000 elections were mind-blowing; I mean, it seemed like a dog-and-pony show better suited to some banana republic than the U.S. I'm not big on conspiracy theories, but why did all the shit have to go down in the state where his brother was governor? Political scholars and wonks might argue, but for the first time I can remember, it felt like democracy in America had failed, that the president was appointed rather than chosen.
And then 9/11 happened, and the path got really dark and twisty, and Americans grew afraid and suspicious and demanded protection pretty much at any cost.
I made some bad career choices, NSA was in a car accident and became disabled, a close friend's eldest daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. There were some good moments, and the 2004 race gave me hope, only to be dashed with that same smug, smirky face. Things trudged along, getting slowly worse for the majority of the country. And then when the economy is tanking, the Dow bouncing like a Superball, my mom faces a crisis of her own. Barring any miracles, I know what Mom's outcome will be, I can only hope the nation fares better. It might sound strange, but when I see the micro reflected in the macro, I feel like maybe change on a larger scale will help me personally, too. Like maybe a leap of faith taken with an honest-to-goodness idealist is exactly what America, and I, need. I guess I'll just have to see.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I'm in a weird and difficult place right now, trying to prepare for what's to come. I say "trying" because, how do you prepare, really? I've made some arrangements, there were financial and legal matters that Mom let go unattended (no will?? WTF?!), that I took care of as best I could. Other than that, I'm just waiting. Waiting. Waiting for something bad to happen, which is not a fun place to be. Not like when you were little, waiting for summer vacation or Halloween night or Christmas morning, that's happy anticipation. This is just inevitable dread that sits like a rock in the pit of your stomach, making it hard to think about anything else, making you wish you were somewhere else, someone else, even.
Emotionally, I'm glad I was able to spend some quality time with my mom while she was still cognizant and continent, I'm glad I spent the extra week. I don't know why I initially thought one week would be enough.There wasn't a lot left unsaid between us or anything, so we watched movies, listened to the radio and chatted with lots of friends of hers, an exhausting amount, really. Until she was spending more time asleep than awake, and, when she was awake, pressing the button on her morphine pump frequently. I hated leaving, but I couldn't afford to stay, and there wasn't much point really. We've said our goodbyes.
The really sucky thing is that, other than the cancer, she's in pretty good shape. Her heart is strong, her blood pressure is better than mine, so she might linger for a while, which isn't what she wanted at all. But unfortunately, there's not much that can be done about it now, so we're waiting. Waiting.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fractured Pieces

So here I am blogging when there's so much else that needs doing, but I want to share, need to share, I guess. Pardon my grammar and coherency, both are liable to fall by the wayside.

  • Having to leave my mom while she's still alive is causing me a fair amount of guilt, even though her condition deteriorated greatly while I was there, and before I left, she was spending most of the time asleep. I keep reminding myself that she's surrounded by friends, and she never lived her life to please anyone except herself.
  • Not having been back for a long time, I forget how beautiful Alaska is, how heart-stoppingly gorgeous. And how much it feels like home. I'm also tempted to forget how long and dark the winters are.
  • I realized that October 23rd will be the thirteenth anniversary of my little brother's death, and I don't think my mom will make it past this date. October, which used to be my favorite month, is pretty much going to suck forever after this.
  • Some children actually inherit stuff when a parent dies. I'm inheriting a lot of personal memoribilia and some debt. Turns out, my mom no longer owns the land she wants to be buried on. Oh, and I'll get a yellow 1987 Chevy pickup too. Sweet!
  • More guilt in that I had to take two of my mother's sweet kitties to the local shelter. They are healthy and and adorable and will be kept until adopted, but I felt so fucking bad that I coudn't keep them myself, and I couldn't even explain to them what was going on. I'm more than a little pissed that none of Mom's friends were willing to step in and help out.
  • I have a vicious cold, which is understandable considering the long flights and the fact that I lived in the hospital for two weeks. Mom's in the hospice room, which is better appointed than a regular room, and family and friends are welcome to stay the night. That's one thing about small towns, it seems like it's easier for people to be accomodating.

Well, it isn't over yet, and there's definitely more to tell, but that's all I can muster for now. I went back to work Monday and am still cleaning up the mess from when I was gone. Sheesh!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Still Kicking

Oh hello. Yes I do still intend to blog and I've been trying to keep up with everyone else's blogs, I'm just pretty overwhelmed right now. These past couple of weeks with my mom have been a mixed bag. I'm glad I'm here and able to spend time with her, even if it's just sitting by the bed holding her hand. Let me tell you, cancer is a fucking ugly way to die. I'd rather get hit by a Mack truck. I've got a LOT to tell, but it will have to wait for now.