Today is the 9th anniversary of the death of my mom.
I used to always take this day off of work. My sisters and I made a casual pact with each other we would honor the day by indulging in pampering activities: manicures, facials, massages--the kinds of things our mom never did for herself. I guess it's our way of acknowledging what her death taught us: Life is short. Enjoy it. But today, today I had too much to do at work. Today, Greg is in pain from a possible hernia, maybe pulled muscle. Today my house is a mess, deer ate all my roses and the state is after me for money from my maternity/recovering from cancer leave that I don't even owe them--a fact I have established multiple times on the phone with state employees--but none of them thought to tell the automated machine which spits out weekly collection notices and confiscates tax returns. Today marks a full week that Frida hasn't had a proper walk--the kind that leaves her panting, too tired to bark at the raccoons and other wildlife making noise in the creek behind our house. Today, well today I forgot.
I forgot until I pulled in to Fairfax to drop Sadie off at daycare, which makes me think of my dad, because that's where he works, and then I thought of my mom and then I remembered. So, I stopped by his work to give him a hug and as he waved to Sadie and blew me a kiss goodbye, he said, 'Happy Sad Day' and I thought it was funny. Not funny ha ha, but funny, makes you ponder things way. I mean really. What do you say on the day of someone's death? It's acknowledged like a birthday, an anniversary, but without the celebration-without the joy. It's just a dud day. A yuck day. A death day.
I can't believe it's been nine years. I still think she's home right now, on this hot night, wearing one of her Guatemalan sundresses doing paperwork in her office, talking on the phone with one of her sisters, or doula friends, or a lady in labor, doodling in her address book, puttering about the kitchen doing dishes, flipping through the newspaper on the dining room table, cutting out articles on organic gardening. That's what she should be doing. But she's not. And we are all here. Me, my sisters and my dad. And we are without her. And I have this baby. This little Sadie baby who has no idea who her grandmother is. Was. No idea what she has missed out on. And there is nothing I can do to fill that void in her life, the void she doesn't even know she has. The funny thing is that Sadie is filling my void. Bringing me closer to my mom by simply existing and making me a mother. It just sucks my mom isn't here to benefit it from it. To hear me say, 'Ah, now I understand it all'. Because I do. I really do.
When I got to work, I made a list. I told myself, get through these things without crying and feeling too sorry for yourself to function and then you can go. And that's what I did.
I went and I picked up Sadie at daycare. Little Sadie who has no idea what this day means or why she got woken up from her afternoon nap and wasn't going to go play outside with Cailyn, Aidan, Oliver and Gianna and instead was being shoved in her car seat on this hot afternoon and then thrown in to her stroller and, along with her Tia Nina and cousin Amara, pushed up a hill to a rock along side a fire road over looking all of San Anselmo and Mount Tamalpais with my girlhood home directly below.
Or why her Mom and Tia Nina started yelling YAAAAaaarrrrk at the top of their lungs, and their Grandpa Sam responded from way below (only a few people who lived with us on the Farm in Tennessee will know why we did that) or why we took a bunch of pictures of her and her cousin on this special rock, a rock being used by lizards to catch some later afternoon rays.
Or finally why, when we stopped by to say Hi to Grandpa Sam, he had teary eyes and couldn't stop saying how grateful he was to see her, to see Amara, to see me, and Nina. How grateful he was we came to visit, that we stayed to swim in the pool in his backyard even though it was dinner time, with bed time not too far off. That we were with him, there at that house, where she should be, but isn't....But is. In them, these little girls, in a way, in a cliche way, she is.
What Sadie and Amara didn't know while they splashed about in the water, and petted my dad's cats, and played with his silly stuffed red gorilla that sings the blues if you press a button on his hand and who they both insist is Elmo, that on this day, this sad day, it was a bit happy, because of them.