Now that everybody has gone home, in a manner of speaking, it’s starting to sink in, that my mom isn’t going to be making me a million cookies at Christmas, isn’t going to buy me another pair of Converses for my next birthday, isn’t going to talk UVA basketball with me.
It’s real; she’s gone.
I didn’t want to believe it. The last time I saw her in the hospital, she was talking about Christmas, about planting flowers in her yard, about getting a new car.
Her doctor came in a little later to tell her that the medical team wasn’t sure what was causing the lesions on her brain visible in the CT scan, but that it was assumed that it was probably tumors.
Mom was more concerned about when they’d let her leave.
That may have been a little bit of a show for me. I know I was putting on a show for her, telling her about our plans to go on vacation, about how she ought to go ahead and buy that new car.
It wasn’t entirely me just trying to keep her spirits up. I believed until I got the news that she was going to beat this like she beat the first bout with cancer that she had begun to fight last summer.
My mother was barely five feet tall, but she was bulletproof, to me, considering. She’d already survived a near-fatal car accident, two collapsed lungs, serious complications during her pregnancy with my younger sister.
Cancer, brain tumors, nothing was going to beat her down.
I don’t believe in a lot, but I believed that with every fiber of my being.
I purposefully didn’t say goodbye. I’ve never liked saying goodbye; it sounds so final, even in casual conversation.
I’m going to see you again soon, so why say goodbye?
I’ve done a lot of thinking on that the past few days, and I’ve decided that I don’t regret that. I’d rather err on the side of keeping hope alive.
I figured she needed that more than she needed another person being sad about what was happening.
There’s plenty of time for being sad, like right now.
We had a nice family and friends service at my home on Sunday, and people brought food and photos and talked and shared their favorite memories, and it was touching for me how many people went out of their way to be a part of remembering my mother.
Now that we’re done with that, I’m numb.
Numb with the reality that I can’t pick up the phone and talk sports and politics with her, make plans to go out to breakfast at Golden Corral.
Who’s going to make me preacher cookies? Who am I going to brag to about interviewing a senator or one of her favorite writers?
I retrieved the Winnie the Pooh that I’ve had since I was an infant from the shelf in a spare bedroom last night and slept with him tucked under my arm.
My mom saw that on a store shelf somewhere and decided that her own little Christopher Robin needed a best friend.
As long as he is at my side, she is, too, so silly as it might make me seem at 43, we’ve got to make room in the bed for a bear from the Hundred Acre Wood.
– Column by Chris Graham