Will we ever get to the other side?

We bandied confessions, tears, forgiveness, reassurances and hopes
in between sleepy good mornings and sleepier good nights.
We showed our feet
and our food
and uttered familiar names of people and places.
As usual I become your dictionary/thesaurus and I’m only happy to.
Your laugh, that hair, your hands, and mine.
It’s like you never left.
We cleared out the grey; everything is clear now except
For one.

Do we swim or do we sink?

Picture Guy has resurfaced, calling me “my dear”, and bearing apologies/problems/questions. Considering I last heard from him nine months ago, I’m surprised and thrilled, but mostly? I’m furious. I want to tell him to go fuck himself. I’ve got no time for him. I don’t care about him. I no longer want him in my life. But those would all be lies. I could never bring myself to say those words to him anyway. Besides, wouldn’t embracing him be easier? Wouldn’t falling back into our old routine be easier? I wouldn’t have to miss him anymore. But three days since his first hello and I’m still trying to decide if no longer missing him would be worth the heartache when the conversation eventually stops.

I miss my mother; I miss it when life was a party to be thrown but that was a million years ago

My mother. She died. I’ve known this for 12 years. But knowing is one thing. Suddenly realising is another. This realisation hit me suddenly, for the hundredth thousandth time yesterday, and for the hundredth thousandth time, it broke me.

I don’t know when, but dad transferred mum’s clothes from one section of the wardrobe to another, and now I can’t find her favourite light green nightgown with the frilly sleeves. I asked dad do you remember her light green nightgown with the frilly sleeves, how could you forget it, she wore it all the time. He said no. I said is there a possibility you might have thrown it away. He said yes. So last night instead of sleeping, I cried and cried and cried.

This morning, surly from the lack of sleep and from remembering why, I made small talk with my colleague who just returned from spending all of last week in Belgium visiting her parents for her mum’s birthday. She said she had a great holiday, her mum really enjoyed having her home, and when it came time for her to leave, complained that it was too soon – “You know how mums are.” Do I? My memory of “how mums are” is quite blurry, seeing as the last one was from 2004, but I said, “Yes, I sure do,” as one should, and then proceeded to cry upwards at my desk all day.

So…it’s been one of those days. My mum being gone will soon return to being background noise. But for now, I’ll let it take centre stage.

 

Twelve

And just like that, 12 years have gone by.

The mirrors haven’t reflected her face for 12 years now.

Her frilly light green nightgown hasn’t been worn for 12 years now.

Her hijabs haven’t touched her hair for 12 years now.

I haven’t touched her for 12 years now.

I had this thought recently. I’m five years slow in realising this – I don’t know how it could have taken me this long – but she hasn’t lived in this house longer than she ever did. We moved here in 1997; she passed away in 2004. That’s seven years of presence versus 12 years of absence. And yet she is still in every corner. There is nowhere I can look without seeing her in my mind’s eye.

I never wrote about this, but this time last year I was in Waterford, Ireland, and after writing a post about it being the 11th year, I was drifting to sleep and felt someone hugging me from behind – spooning me, really. I instantly knew it was my mother. After all, having her be the big spoon was one of our favourite activities – yes, even when I was as old as 19. I heard her voice say, “Don’t turn around. I’ll just hold you.” But I wanted to turn to look at her anyway. I pushed, and was met with resistance. She cautioned me again not to. But I didn’t listen. I pushed hard as she raised her voice: “I told you not to!” She dug her long fingernail into my back as punishment and of course, I was able to turn my neck fully around and…she wasn’t there.

I don’t know if I was awake and she really came to visit, or it was a combination of lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis, but my back did hurt a lot from where she had pressed her fingernail.

I’d like to think it was her though, coming all the way to Ireland to comfort her crying child.

Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

So in an unexpected turn of events, not one but two friends I haven’t talked to in a few months because they revealed themselves to be jerks have extended an olive branch to me in the last 24 hours. One to wish me Eid Mubarak (immediate internal reaction: “Thanks but…ok”) and the other, to ask me to check out the Israeli Film Festival together (immediate internal reaction: “FUCK YOU” and “Ooh, I didn’t know it was on”.)

In case it isn’t obvious, I’m not too thrilled by these olive branches. I actually don’t even like olives? I wanted to reject them both. I’m not angry anymore. I’m just not interested. Still, I decided to wait several hours so I wouldn’t say something I’d regret. I eventually decided on “Eid Mubarak to you too. Hope you had a good Eid” and “Thanks, but I won’t be in SG” respectively. (Not a lie. I’ll be in Vietnam next week. Story for another post.)

“Mine was just ok,” said one. “Oh, where are you going?” said the other. The first one may or may not have been bait for me to enquire further; the second clearly demands an answer/further interaction.

I haven’t responded to either. Maybe I don’t want to? But I also don’t want to be a dick? We were good friends when we were friends. But I’m also not ready to make nice. But if I wait to be ready I never will be. But…

I don’t know what my next move is so I’m sitting here being passive-aggressive and bellowing to the Dixie Chicks.

And if I rise, we’ll rise together

For a brief moment at my cousin’s wedding yesterday, I wondered where mum was.

And then I spent the next ten minutes crying upwards and the next few hours imagining what she would look like in 2016.

Her style of hijab would have changed, that’s for sure. Back in 2004 people were still wearing those big square ones you’d have to fold yourself, and tuck in with pins. Most people wear instant shawls these days. What would she look like in an instant shawl?

Would she have put on weight, or lost some?

Changed her glasses to bifocals?

Grown more grey hair?

Would she reprimand people for greeting me with “When are you getting married?” instead of “How are you and what drives you?” Would she be unlike everyone else and be proud of me for becoming an independent, self-reliant woman? For always being true to myself? For inheriting her spunk? For my world travels?

How would she feel about being 60 years old?

Would I have pictures with her on my phone? I have zero pictures of my mum on my phone.

I found this song today at work and cried four tissues’ worth of tears at my desk. At home I watched the video again, and I found myself crying; pleading, “Don’t die. Don’t die.” Just like I did the night when we thought she was dying, and I sat at the foot of her bed, bawling into my aunt’s lap. I could plead all I wanted. She died two nights later.

Exactly one month until the 12th year. It does get easier. Sometimes it’s almost okay. But other times it really isn’t.

And you’re just gonna have to cry yourself to sleep like I will tonight.