I hate you.
Last year, although technically our second, is what I think of as our first holidays without Mom. We lost her just before Christmas of 2011 and of course that year we were all padded in our grief bubble, kept afloat by the love and support of friends and family, that I don't think we felt the cold reality of all that had so freshly happened.
So last year, the "first year," I don't know how, but we skated through. I honestly don't remember much. We cried into our napkins at holiday dinners but there wasn't a pervasive gloom over everything.
This year, I haven't talked to anyone else about it, but the gloom is here and I feel like Mom just left and I am so regretful of everything I did and failed to do that November and December two years ago.
I left her on Thanksgiving. She could still get out of bed on her own and she could still walk, and she was coherent and could talk, but it seems inconceivable that we left her at home and went to One Kalakaua for "family Thanksgiving dinner." I never finished the Thanksgiving dinner prayer because I was crying for her, only thinking of myself and what the future looked like without her in my life. If I were thinking of her, I would have rushed home and sat beside her. And then, I went Black Friday shopping in a haze of exhaustion and sadness. I remember sitting on the cold ground in front of Bath and Body Works with my friend, thinking the whole time, why am I here? Why the hell am I here? Smiling blankly at the others in line, who were excited to get the cheap tote bag. Drinking a badly-made caramel macchiato. Shopping at Macy's afterward and buying stupid things like pillows because they were cheap, and still not going home. Have I always tried to fill the voids in my life with material possessions?
The hospital. Hospice. The blue folder with pain medicine schedule. The cot in her bedroom. The shifts. Why did I ever leave that room? People telling me how strong we all were. People telling me to take care of my dad. How breathtakingly quickly it all fell apart. How quickly she was gone. How I regretted not spending every minute in that room. How I stupidly cherished the nights I was "off" and went to sleep upstairs. How I can still not listen to Wynonna Judd sing "Burning Love" without remembering the Queen's parking lot, how the sounds of the theme song for Sims Social (defunct on Facebook now, but remembered flawlessly in my head) reminds me of the cot and the nights I did spend in the room. I spent one of those nights in bed with her, with my fingers enlaced in hers. It was my favorite thing to do when she was well - climb in bed with her just to goad her into kicking me out (she liked her space and the bed really was too small.) But we'd always spend a few minutes talking before she told me to scram. That night she either knew it was our last chance or she had drifted that much closer to Heaven because I spent the whole night curled around her, and she even let me hold her hand. One night before dinner, Scott sat in a chair at the foot of her bed, playing ukulele and singing to her. I called him to dinner, wanting to appease Dad, who was trying so hard to keep the household running like normal, but nothing was normal, and Scott would not be rushed. He sat with her, and he sang.
In reality I was there, I was by her side days and nights and hours and minutes, I knew things others didn't about what she needed, and I was there to provide those things and those words and that time and that care. But it's all the days and nights and hours and minutes I was away that will always haunt me.
I should be thankful for all I was able to do. But I can't stop thinking about all that I didn't get to do because I stuck my head in the sand and stayed on shore when I should have been charting those unfamiliar waters with my mother, eyes clear and focused on her. The opening scene of The Descendants always flashes through my mind - look how much joy on her face, this vibrant, flawed woman who clearly loves life. In the next few minutes everyone's lives will change. I want to play that scene - which fades out while she is still having the time of her life - over and over, with no knowledge of what's to come.