The following is a blog entry I wrote back in 2007, a couple of weeks after my mother passed away.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
I am walking down the street now… On my way to work in the early morning light. The cold air in Kendall Square stings my lungs and face when the wind whistles through the canyons of brick and concrete. Since Mom died I seem to be regressing a little…I have begun to behave like I did when I was a kid and I had to touch everything I passed. Today as I walked past a brick retaining wall I punched at an ice cap repeatedly, playing a little game to see how much ice I could crack with my sore fist balled up inside a mitten.
I wondered today if any of the other people commuting to work think I look crazy… a 32 year old man walking around touching every inanimate object he passes and breaking ice with his fists.
I remember when I was a little boy and I would touch everything and Mom would scold me. I would have to touch everything with both hands or I would have a meltdown… she would drag me through department stores and museums hoping I wouldn’t break anything as we passed through. She thought I was a funny little kid… this would fade as I got older and more precocious but as a little boy I think my eccentricities were quite entertaining to Mom and her brothers. At least, this is how they relay the stories to me anyways.
My favorite story about me ‘grabbing stuff’ was when she was carrying me through Bunker Hill Community College. I was 4 or 5 years old and I reached out and pulled the fire alarm as she passed it. The entire school had to be evacuated, of course, and Boston Fire had to respond to reset the alarm. She had stopped there for 5 minutes to pick up an assignment and it turned into a 2 hour event which ended with me crying over a lollipop the girls at the welcome desk gave me because I was so scared. The thing about mom was this… yes… she would try like hell to keep me from screwing up… but once I did screw up she was in my corner. I remember this day, she consoled me even though she was incredibly embarrassed by the whole scene.
When I first got the news that she had passed away three weeks ago I froze up for a moment and then I had the most salient wave of emotion I can ever remember experiencing. It was pretty quick… but for a few short moments I was a little boy again… and I was lost and alone in the department store. I could feel my lower lip drop and quiver and a rush of sadness and fear… a sick hopeless feeling seized my heart and I had the urge to throw myself on the floor and cry.
Then quickly the fear was gone. I thought of my brother and the other people who would be feeling this loss and some sort of ‘oldest son’ instinct kicked in. I made the decision right then and there to fulfill the role I figured was my responsibility… to make sure all of her wishes were carried out during the final arrangements and for me to remain healthy and sober so I could help everyone else grieve with dignity and respect.
So, this is what I do… I work through my feelings now in writing and I get feedback from my friends and it makes me feel better. On the one hand, sometimes this can be very personal and it seems a little desperate to communicate about some things so openly… But on the other hand, it lets people know where I am at. And it lets me get this stuff out where I might not otherwise have a chance to do so for whatever reason. When I write I get to sort this stuff out in my head and it makes me feel better every time.
Good Bye Mom. I know you are not going to find me at the customer service desk this time. No matter how tough things were, you always did the right thing in life. You did a kick ass job with Max and I. You taught us no matter what the obstacles we face to take care of the people we care about and to work hard. You singlehandedly raised two strong, healthy and happy men in spite of how difficult life was for you. I have to believe, if there is any justice in the universe, you are in a better place now… and we will see you again.