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.