Mom & Me
By: Lauren Gallow
My mom died. My mom passed away. My mom’s dead. None of these versions feel right or even OK. Why do I feel like it’s my job to make other people OK with this information? Every time it comes up, I feel this urge to make light of it or make a joke about it so it’s somehow less uncomfortable for the other person. When what I really want to do is cry and try to explain how sad I am. To explain how much it hurts. That’s what was really surprising: how much it hurts. The day I had to pull over my car because I was sobbing so hard it felt like I was going to puke, like there was something inside of me squeezing, so much and so hard that I bent over in pain as my tears just made rivers in the dirt. It felt like I was being twisted, around and around right in my stomach. Like my insides were being pulled out. The weirdest things make me think of her. Not even think of her, just feel for her. Ache for her. Miss her. I remember that collage we made of all my pictures. I must have been in kindergarten. I remember watching her write checks at the store, thinking it was so beautiful. Going home and pretending I was her, sweeping and swooping the pen across the page, trying to copy her half-cursive writing. That peach colored mixing bowl with the pink stripes, sitting on the counter with a big wooden spoon, mixing up something. I remember her picking me up from preschool, I would see her in the doorway with her big beautiful dark hair and high-waisted jeans. She was always just as excited to see me as I was her. I remember the nights crying in my bed about something, some boy who made fun of me or friends who were ignoring me, feeling like my life was over, it hurt so bad, and she was the only one who understood. She just let me cry, didn’t try to talk me out of it, just let it spill out until there was nothing left, and then she would take a wet washcloth, cool and damp, and put it on my forehead. I did that for her the day she died. Put that washcloth on her forehead and just looked in her eyes, sometimes a glimmer of her still there, sometimes nothing. That last time I looked in her eyes, I saw her. She was there, just barely.
Most of the time I just feel angry. Restless. Wandering around for something, anything, but I don’t know what it is. Hating everything and everybody, especially the happy people and the ones who make jokes. It all feels so pointless sometimes. Why even try when it’s all going to be nothing in the end? I didn’t even realize this depth of sadness was possible. Just when I think it can’t get worse, it goes down again. I go down again. I crack open and my insides spill out and all the time I spent on my hair and makeup in an attempt to put on my happy face is wasted, it all drips off and my reality is all that’s left.
The gutter outside is broken, a piece is missing at the corner and the water just drips out from the roof onto the ground. In my dream last night I put it back together. It was easier than I thought. It just snapped back together. I wish it was that easy to put this back together. What am I doing? Just moving. Floating. Feeling. No time, no deadlines, no expectations. Just watching. Mostly watching myself, watching the emotions and the thoughts float in and out of me.
Sometimes I think about having a drink at 1 in the afternoon. Sometimes I think about putting whiskey in my morning tea. I’ve never had these thoughts before. More often than not lately, I do it. It helps with something. Helps with some kind of pain I don’t even know how to identify or face. So I just eat and drink and turn off my brain and watch TV. It feels good. It also feels good to have a little dog curled up on my leg like I have right now. So warm and cozy. Makes me think my mom must have done this all the time with these dogs, her dogs.
Lauren Gallow is a writing coach, author, and baking enthusiast currently living in Seattle, WA.