I am doing my morning walk through the cemetary and I see Joy Berry's grave sideways as I stoop and drink from the water faucet, 1909 - 2009, a hundred years, good for you, Joy, whoever you are, lucky girl. I read the obituaries in the newspaper, people older and younger than my mother, and I go to an Asian restaurant and am surrounded by 95-year-old healthy women having lunch with their daughters.
I have a doctor's appointment this morning in a building next to the hospital where my mother died a year ago. I park in the same spot, view the same water-starved bushes, walk the same walk as I did waiting for her to die.
It has been a year since I spoke to my mother. That is a significant amount of time but I remember those last days with complete clarity. The call came right after midnight, my brother at the hospital, her shrunken, bruised body had finally let go. My husband and I racing through the hot July streets, I wanted to be there while she was still warm, still looking like life and talk to her one more time.
I can't say my grief has lessened. The confusion is less prevalent, the heaviness remains and I haven't had a day when I could honestly say, I am joyful. Whenever I approach my father's house I am slugged in the gut, she will not be there. I do not want to be in her house by myself. She comes at me in waves and I need to be outside. My father has tucked aways keepsakes, a funny little vase with a cracked face. She put toothbrushes in it but Sonny decided he preferred a regular kitchen glass and now the vase sits on the closet shelf. My fingers run over the painted surface and there is that familiar crazy tug in my belly.
Sometimes I look above my oak tree to the blueness and my sadness takes me strongly. Most of the time I get myself back up and find something productive to do. She would want that.