Do I start at the beginning? Do I lay everything out in order? Do I jump from memory to memory like the maelstrom that is my brain lately?
I didn't realize my mom was sick. I hadn't called her in a while. There guilt here is heavy. My dad had been noticing little things for about a month. The only time I called her in well over a month was to quickly wish her Happy Mother's Day and get off the phone as quickly as possible because I was in a rush to go do something. I even cut her off when she tried to chat more.
I talk to my mom later that night. She answers the phone the way she always does, the same "Well helloooo" I always hear. I think everyone must be over reacting because clearly she's fine. Relief sets in. And then I hear "Marvin...and son...think...(long pause in which there is enough time for my heart to sink to the deepest depths of my stomach and for my whole world to implode)...something wrong." I get a feeling that I am no longer in my own body. My ears start ringing. I calmly try to reply with something cheerful and positive.
She can't come up with the right words. She can't come up with her own son's name. I don't know what to do with myself and spend a couple days in a furious cleaning spree and our kitchen has never looked so sparkly. I'm pretty sure the bathroom looks awesome too.
They think she's had a stroke. I Google stroke symptoms and see that recovery is an option. I am hopeful. I plan to get Mom set up with therapy and be back in two weeks to start my job. I get a plane ticket and get ready to go home.
Somewhere in all this, my brother calls me on his lunch break and gets mad at me for an hour about an off handed, unnecessary comment I made 2 or 3 years ago. I had carelessly said I was not going to be the one who would take care of mom in her old age "because if she's going to be growing pot in the back yard it's not my basement she'll be living in when she's old." It's taken wildly out of context and the tone is set for almost all interactions I will have with my brother for the next year and a half: Complete misunderstanding of each other.
I wish all the time I could take back all my careless, hurtful comments that I have made after all the fights with my mom over our lifetime of fighting.
Now, it's not like I used to spend a lot of time wondering what it would be like if my parents were sick, or worse, dying, but I did have ideas and expectations of how it would go, of how I would react and how people around me would react. I've seen the movies, I've watched enough tv. We will come together. Someone else will take care of things and since I am the youngest I will be able to fly under the radar. My brother is the one who is good at being organized, facing challenges and dealing with the world. We will all come together and there will be someone to take care of Me through all this.
The reality is nothing like I'd imagined. This is not the way any of this should be happening. We have started off fighting rather than hearing each other. My brother and I both seem to feel like we are facing this alone. I am scared and I don't know what to do, or even how to face the fact that I am scared.
I always thought an experience like this would bring my brother and I together since we are the only two people in the world who are facing it. Instead we are in our separate corners, with our wildly different views on everything, squaring off, looking into the eyes of yet another fight.
I have picked my share of fights over the last year and a half. I lashed out at some friends, said hurtful things to my brother, told the woman at the post office to go fuck herself.
I have been withdrawn. I have been angry. I have been sad, confused, devastated. Most of the time my moods and reactions don't seem to be connected to my grief but my counsellor assures me they are. It doesn't make any sense to me.
I don't think people talk about grief enough. I think this lack of communication makes the feelings of aloneness that are created by grief even worse. But, it's a Catch 22. No matter how many people I seem to speak to about it, even if they have experienced grief too, I still feel like there is no one in the whole entire world that can possibly understand how I feel. And then I feel more alone.
I thought I would be ok. I thought that somehow I had distanced myself from my mom enough over the years that when the time came I would be sad, but I would be ok. My life wouldn't change too much. I was more wrong about this than I have ever been about anything, and probably more wrong about this than I will ever be about anything.