A year ago this coming Thursday, I got on a plane to fly to Cincinnati to see my mom before she died. But she had other plans, and as I waited for my ride to the airport, I got a text from my sister that she was gone. I went anyway and met up with my sister and brothers in Mom’s room at the residence where she’d spent her last two years after Dad died. We shared memories, told jokes, and did what was necessary to make sure that her room was cleared out and arrangements were made.
Back in July we interred her ashes on the garden wall of the little chapel in northern Michigan next to Dad. I included the October 26, 2022 edition of the New York Times that was waiting for her that morning, and a copy of the local paper with her obituary. I brought home a small sample of her ashes to place next to those I have from Dad, and they’re together there and with me.
It’s been a year now, and as I’ve gone through it, I know that grief is a glacial process. There are moments when I miss her dearly and inconsolable that I won’t hear her voice or read her comments here, where she was “Faithful Correspondent.” And then there are moments of fond remembrance as I look around the house and see her traces: books, the well-placed pieces of art that only she knew exactly where to put them, and life habits like making my bed every day and how to make coffee. And I have the genetic proof as well: the semi-curly hair, the knock-knees, and the strabismus in my right eye that I shared with Mom’s younger brother and his eldest daughter.
Mom shows up in my plays in one way or another. It’s the way I deal with loss, the same way I did with Dad and with Allen. As I note in the play “Good Grief,” grief is my new boyfriend. So, she’s here with me, reminding me to write thank-you notes, make my bed, and get a Kleenex when I sniff.