It was a school night, well past my bedtime. My dad was on a business trip; my sister and I were sound asleep. I was peacefully dreaming the dreams of a third grader, when my mother laid her hand on my head, ‘Lisa? I don’t want to alarm you, but the fire department is coming.’ Alarm me? Fire? Why would that alarm me? I bounced out of bed, wide awake, and asked an anxious why: a reasonable question under the circumstances. Her answer was drowned out by the screaming sirens of a fleet of approaching fire trucks.
Half a dozen of them arrived, gridlocking the formerly quiet cul-de-sac where we lived. Neighboring houses were alternately bathed in red and darkness and red again as the spinning light bars pierced the night. Firemen filled the entry, it was wall-to-wall helmets and hoses and big boots. I felt impossibly short in all the commotion, swallowed up in a sea of towering figures tromping up and down the stairs.
Watching the chaos with huge eyes, I wondered if maybe we shouldn’t step outside, my mother and I, evacuate this nascent fireball. Well, as it turned out, no. “Small fire in the lint trap of the clothes dryer, ma’am — more smoke than fire, really.“ With that the firemen gathered their gear and adiosed, my mother thanking them as she closed the door. She leaned back against it, looked down at me and said, ‘sorry.’
Today is Mother’s Day* and I wish I could tell her the same thing, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye. But to be honest, I don’t know that I could have even if I’d had the chance. Those terrible days were the saddest of my life, my heart was broken beyond anything I’ve ever known. How do you do that, how do you say goodbye to the person who was your first and closest friend? The one who rushed you to the emergency room, taught you to walk in heels, who sang along to the radio in falsetto? Who was your Santa Claus and Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy? Who was your whole world?
I still miss my mother, more than twenty years later. I miss making her laugh, it was such an easy thing to do. I miss hearing her voice and her cooking. I miss knowing she’s here, safe and close by. I want her back, with me, to celebrate the magical bond we had. Together. Which is how it should always be.
copyright © 2017 the whirly girl
* Today’s post is a revised and repurposed reblog from 2011. Originally, this was a birthday tribute written for my mother’s birthday. I happened to stumble across it a couple weeks ago as I updated my computer files. So I decided to reblog it because it’s already done and I’m a big baby. One day I’ll grow up, but I’ll probably never adjust to her loss.