I haven’t yet had the chance to begin writing the next part of The Story, but I need to write about today.
Shortly after my mother passed (September 27, 2012), so many wonderful friends reached out to me. Some warned me that grief would strike at inexplicable times. Others told me that that I would never get over this loss. For the most part, I’ve been handling things well. I have my ups and my downs. I’ve made sure to not close myself off from friends or family – which would be my natural tendency. I’ve learned to lean on the people closest to me and that’s been blessing. I even re-upped my therapy sessions, in anticipation of working through these complex emotions.
I suspected this week would be rough, though. On Sunday, I returned from Atlanta where we had a small memorial service for my mother. I suppose the finality of putting her – even if it’s just a portion of her remains – in the ground, next to her mother and her mother’s mother, would bring about a new wave of emotions. I was right.
Today, I called our cellular provider to have mom’s phone service discontinued. I was surprised, I suppose even pleasantly surprised, when they asked, “Would you like to save her out-going message as a memorial?” Huh? I hadn’t thought of that. I thought to myself, “gee, that’s very kind of them. That must give some folks some sort of peace … to be able to hear their loved one’s voice from time to time.” As my heart started beating quicker and quicker, I started to stumble on words. “What … Uhm … How do I do that?” As the kind person on the other phone suggested I use a smartphone or other audio recording device, it dawned on me that I already knew how to do it, but that my mother actually didn’t have an out-going message on her voicemail. “Uh, no … no, I don’t think we want to do that. Thank you, though. That’s nice.”
After I hung up the phone, my heart began beating even quicker. Before I knew what I was doing, I had logged into my Google Voice account … I knew my mother had left me messages there over the past few years, even though I had tried to get her to just call my iPhone directly. Sure enough, I found a five second voice message from her, dated September 13, 2013 – just one week before she died. The message itself was insignificant … something along the lines of “Lori, it’s me. You don’t have to call me back.” She sounded so frail. I froze instantly. I’m not sure how I remembered to keep breathing, but the tears began to pour from my eyes.
My heart felt like it was going to leap out of my chest. I ran to the bathroom at work, where I wanted nothing more than to let the most gut wrenching sobs out of my mouth. I saw someone else’s feet in the stall next to me. I tried to compose myself and exited the bathroom. I couldn’t think of where I could go. I felt under pressure to finish work. There was only only an hour and a half left of the day, surely I could pull myself together.
As I sat at my keyboard, muffling my tears, I noticed that my boss was gone. His door was open. I grabbed my tissues and headed in there where I could have some privacy. After a few minutes had passed, I tried to get back to work. The tears were still pouring down my face. My heart was still racing. I felt like I needed to retreat. Thankfully, my coworkers noticed that I was losing it. One offered to take over my duties for the remaining hour of work, while the other consoled me and told me it was okay – that I should go on and head home.
As I pulled out of the garage at work, the tears were still falling down my face. Finally, my heart began to slow down to it’s usual pace. I tried to let myself cry peacefully, to just let the tears roll down my face, to my chin, from my chin to my shirt. To stop fighting them. To give in. My soundtrack for the ride home mirrored that of my emotions: from Yo-Yo Ma’s heartfelt cello solos, to Coheed and Cambria’s gut wrenching screams, and finally to the Civil Wars tearful ballads.