A Most Terrible Moment

A most terrible moment 

I was putting on my running shoes on a November morning. I received a text with impossible words. Eve is dead. This is followed by, This is all on you. 

eveisdead.eveisdead.eveisdead.

This reverberates in my head. I am not able to make sense of the words – they run into each other and become a mangled train wreck.  

thisisallonyou.thisisallonyou.thisisallonyou.

And the black hole opens up. It is my fault, I think to myself, for not being enough to cover all your sadness. An insufficient sacrifice; a rejected burnt offering. I’m so sorry, Evah, I whisper. 

A most terrible moment

I am in the long grey and white house. It is not my house. A uniformed sheriff and chaplain are standing shoulder to shoulder, like solemn bookends. Sincere condolences, platitudes are murmured. I’m so sorry. Vague words about time of death, overdose, ambulance, tried everything, so sorry floated around my head.  And then an ocean of realization crashes down on me. I feel nothing. I am numb, but my body is shivering violently. I realize I am cold, I will never be warm again. 

A most terrible moment 

I forget how, but somehow I am on a plane, and I arrive at the hospital you were brought to. A slender woman, strong and small, with short blonde hair tells me how she tried so hard to bring you back. For forty-five minutes she tried to wrestle your soul back into your body. I am a mother too, the emergency physician said, and she cried. And I cried. And we cried together for this mother-loss of mine. I told her she was the last person to touch you alive. She pulled me into an embrace and we held the memory of you between us. Mother-Dead and Mother-Alive – two opposites existing in the same time-space continuum. I didn’t know it then, but this jarring dichotomy would become my new reality.   

The most terrible moment. 

I will never see you again. Not in this lifetime. 

I gather these terrible moments like photographs that hurt to look at, I tie them together with a yellow ribbon (yellow was your favorite color), and tuck them away in the rafters of my mind. Every now and then, one flutters down and my eyes are inexplicably drawn to it – just how we are inexplicably drawn to a horrific accident, or a terrible act of violence. Don’t look, don’t go there. And still we do. 

And still you walk the dusty hallways of my memory. Your ghost-feet leave footprints on the floor, and I reach down and press my palm onto the impressions your feet leave. Sometimes I imagine they feel warm, but I know that is just my mind playing tricks on me. I know am alone in this dusty hallway, holding these terrible moments tied with a yellow ribbon.