Alright, time to put down my last thoughts on my mom’s passing. This one is the hardest—I suppose that’s why it has taken me so long to write. My head needed time to put all my thoughts in order before I could express them logically.
My parents had pretty much decided to retire to Florida at some point because A) That’s where old people go and B) My sister and her family live there. Nobody’s parents ever decide to retire in New York City and my sister was always closer to them anyway. My dad actually retired around five years ago and my mom had plans to retire next year. Since she died so suddenly, our first thought was “Dad, why don’t you just take a couple of months and get away from it all? Go to Florida after the funeral.”
I guess to some people on my mom’s side of the family, this was the chain of events:
- Mom dies suddenly.
- Dad buries her quickly with a cheap funeral.
- Dad moves to Florida immediately after.
So one of my mom’s cousins called my dad—THE DAY AFTER THE FUNERAL—basically accusing him of Ridiculousness I Will Not Specify. I think her exact words were “We think something fishy is going on.” We. As in, not just her, but also others to whom she had expressed her feelings.
My dad had just buried his second wife, the woman he had lived with for the better part of four decades, and you have the audacity to call his house the next day and accuse him of what, poisoning her for the insurance money or something? Let me just go ahead and put it on Front Street: My mom’s insurance policy was worth exactly $65. Sixty. Five. Dollars.
Don’t call my daddy anymore. Here go some change…go buy some business and get out of ours.
I was pissed for daaaayyyysssss after that. I think I’m still pissed? I’m glad I live in NYC because I’m not sure I could act civilized if she smiled in my face.
So that happened.
And then this happened.
My dad and I went through a lot of my mom’s files and papers to check for outstanding balances or other pressing business. I wanted to help out while I was there so he wouldn’t be overwhelmed with tasks (and memories) all alone after I left. He asked if I knew my mom’s passwords (facebook, email, etc) and I told her she probably wrote them down somewhere, because that’s just how she was. We found her passwords in a recipe box and he had me check her email for anything important.
Nothing was in her inbox, so he went back to the living room.
After he left, something made me check her outbox, and there was an e-mail to me. She had sent it to my old e-mail address so I never saw it.
I wrote my mom this email before my birthday, around mid-August, and she didn’t respond. I heard secondhand from my sister that she was pretty upset about it and we were basically at a stalemate: I wasn’t talking to her, and she wasn’t talking to me. I guess she had time to think, because a few weeks later, she wrote me an email…an “I’m sorry” type email, asking me to call her so she could hear my voice, offering to fly up to see me so we could talk in person.
I read the first paragraph and everything in me collapsed at once. She had written it on the Sunday before she died. She tried to reach out to me and fix our relationship, and I never responded. I couldn’t make it through the rest of the email. I managed to make it to the bathroom before I threw-up, but I couldn’t finish it. I forwarded it to myself to read one day in the future, but I can’t deal with it right now.
She tried to fix it. She realized I’m not a bad person and she tried to fix it. All the grief I didn’t go through when she died hit me all at once because we could have had a relationship. We could’ve fixed it—it could’ve been like old times. She didn’t die feeling like a failure for having a gay son. She died missing me and wondering why I didn’t email her back, and I can’t process it. This pain is worse than any kind of grief, because I know she was sad, and I could’ve made her happy, but I never got the chance to.
I pulled it together before my dad could realize anything was wrong, and I’m still trying to deal. We still don’t know exactly why she died. She had just had a physical—perfect health, perfect tests—and she went from healthy to dead in a couple of days. Her blood pressure bottomed out and never went back to normal. Everything in me thinks I did it because I broke her heart. I know intellecutally that’s not true, but I don’t know what to tell myself to make me believe it. I feel like I broke my mommy and couldn’t put her back together.
Now, everything sets me off. The most innocuous things will hit me strangely and I can’t stop crying. There are people I can’t talk to and places I can’t go. Foods I can’t eat and shows I can’t watch. I just wish I could do it all over again. I wish I would’ve left when my dad first called and then maybe I could’ve seen her one more time and she could’ve told me in person. We could’ve had our reunion and said ‘I love you’ and I wouldn’t feel so much guilt.
I’m sure she knew. I just wish I could’ve told her.