My mom passed away on the morning of 12 May 2009. She was visiting her sister in Tennessee when she just closed her eyes and was gone. They said there was no pain, that she was peaceful. That is supposed to make you feel better, but really, it's not much of a consolation.
I was not ready. I thought I had more time, another year maybe. I wish so much that I could have been there to hold her hand. I wanted to do that. I thought I had more time, I thought I could keep working and living my life and now I regret every meal out that I should have eaten with her, every time I didn't visit when I could have. My mother did everything for me and the least I could have done was to curl up in bed and hold her hand when she died.
When you are 25, you do not expect to sit in a room and have a man ask you which urn you would like for her remains. You do not expect to inherit a house and a dog and a canoe, you do not expect to feel so terribly, terribly lonely.
When someone is gone, you have a hard time figuring out where to put them. I know my mom is no longer here physically, I saw her body so cold and still laying on the table. But it's almost like a game of Where's Waldo, she's not at her house, and she's not at the room at Margaret's where she stayed these last months of her illness, and there are her sneakers on the floor, and her wheelchair in the corner of my aunt's house, and her perfume in the bathroom. So finally I decided she's on Monhegan Island, our favorite summer retreat, hiking on the trail just up ahead of me. I can see her climbing the rough stone cliff and at the summit, turning and waving and disappearing into the woods. And that's where she'll be always, on the trail, just ahead of me.