November 12, 2007

An Ode to my Mom

Three years ago today I found myself sitting in a parking lot of a busy and large parking lot of an even larger shopping mall somewhere in Florida. I was listening to David Sedaris short stories in my rental car. I had no idea what else to do with myself. I was in a state of shock for several reasons. My Mother has passed away in the middle of the night after a long and difficult battle with MS. After nearly two decades of learning to live along side this brutal disease it had suddenly slipped away silently in the night taking my Mother with it.

The time and place of her passing becomes more complicated because it took place at my half sister’s home. My sister was her care giver at the time and we had opted to not place my Mom in a hospital for her final days. This in itself isn’t really so significant but the day, November 12th was. My half sister’s daughter was turning 12 that day and she would be mortified to know her Grandmother had died on HER birthday in HER house. To make matters worse, there was a slumber party planned for that very same day and my sleeping quarters which in fact was a couch in the living room would be squirming with pre-teens by dark. My sister did not cancel the party and I could not bare to think about looming around the house with a gaggle of girls taking turns brushing each other’s hair and playing truth of dare.

I don’t know where I thought I would be or my Mother would be when she was going do die but trapped in a rental car looking for a quick escape from my sister’s house in Florida was not at the top of my list. My mind wasn’t functioning properly, I could hardly operate a car. I had accidentally left my wallet at home. I had tried to sit on the beach to be alone with my thoughts but a storm was approaching and the winds were so forceful that every grain of sand that struck my bare skin felt like a million finger flicks of an older sibling or school bully. I abandoned that beach but had no back up plan, especially one that did not call for the use of a debit card or cash. I had no friends in the area. I didn’t know my around at all and as far as I could tell the local highway featured nothing but all the same stupid chain stores and restaurants the rest of the highways in America also feature.

I was lost and somehow I found my way to a parking lot of large shopping center where I put my car in park and cried. I couldn’t drive anymore. I didn’t have the energy to find someplace “cool” to grieve. I don’t even know where a “cool” place to grieve would be no less in nowheresville Florida. I couldn’t return back to my sister’s house because the slumber party was still in full swing. The only spare bed to be had was the bed my mother had died on so needless to say, my rental car became my one and only place to go and a parking spot at the back of the lot lined with palm trees was where I landed.

Two days earlier I received a call from sister telling me to come to Florida immediately. She further explained that my Mom had gone into a coma and that it looked like this was IT. In preparing for IT I packed a few essentials, jumped on a plane to Florida and rented a car from the airport. In my rush to pack I had forgotten to bring music, something I normally never forget. The 1 CD in my portable player happened to be David Sedaris reading some of this work. I suppose I could have listened to the radio of my rental car but trust me when I tell you that radio in this part of Florida was as depressing and average as the strip of chain stores I was surrounded by. I in turn moved the CD from my walkman to the car stereo.

My cell phone battery had died and at this point I didn’t have the energy to say out loud to anyone “she’s gone” anymore. It would be hours before I could return home to a quiet house of sleeping party goers so I sat quietly alone and listened to David read. Sometimes I cried because I had just lost my mother and was trapped in a rental car in a Florida mall parking lot. Sometimes I laughed because Mr. Sedaris is funny even in the face of death and I was trapped in a rental car in a Florida mall parking lot.

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