Two days after my Mother passed, it was Mother’s Day. My Boyfriend and I were still at her house, wrapping things up. It was my last day before I was to return to NYC. As I’ve mentioned, I now have a really inappropriate habit of writing things in my head before they happen. Picturing how things will unfold and how I’ll feel about them. Since Mother’s Day was the day I was supposed to be in NYC participating in the race I’d been training for, I thought I would post a picture on Facebook and Instagram of my feet in my new running shoes with the caption being something about how I was supposed to be in NYC to run in the Mother’ Day Race, but instead I was home after saying goodbye to my own sweet Mother. And then I’d state that I was still going to run the four miles in her honor.
And that I loved her.
I thought this would be a lovely tribute. But in reality the reason I wanted to do it was more selfish. One thing I’d realized was that I’d rather everyone just find out at once, rather than have to awkwardly respond to various individual texts and messages from friends who didn’t know, them saying, “Hey!! What’s been going on? Are you getting excited for the move home?? 🙂 ”
But when I awoke that Sunday I realized that one – the last thing I felt like doing was going on Social Media and seeing all the loving messages from people to their Mothers. And two – the second to last thing I wanted to do was run for four miles and be alone with my thoughts.
So when My Boyfriend asked, “What do you want to do today?”
I responded, “I want to get something to to plant in her yard.” And soon we were off to the nursery.
I had asked my aunt, who is a very talented gardener, for some ideas on what I should get but when we got there, were weren’t able to find those plants in the size I had in my mind. We wandered around for a very long time. This was because every few minutes, I’d turn to My Boyfriend and he’d read my weepy eyes and we’d have to stop so he could pull me to him and give me the strength to keep walking.
Finally, I spotted it. A rambling rose bush, white blooms with light pink spots. It was tall, maybe four feet and when I saw it, I ran over, dropped to my knees and put my arms around the base. I called to My Boyfriend, “This is the one!”
He walked over and said, “Are you sure?”
I nodded vigorously.
My choice was validated when, as we approached the check-out line, the woman in front of us said, “Oh, that is so lovely.”
And then the woman behind us said, “That is beautiful. Is it a gift for Mother’s Day?”
And I blinked rapidly and said, “Yes. It is.”
After My Boyfriend had carefully secured it in the car, he said, “What next?”
And I said, “I’d like to get some champagne and triple creme brie and a baguette and some salami, and work in her yard.”
And we went to the market by her house to get supplies.
When we returned, I set everything out and texted pictures to my friends who’d known my Mom and they all said, “That is PERFECT! She would have loved that!!” And I smiled because I knew they were right. But after having a few pieces of bread and brie, I realized I did not really want to work in the yard. I really just wanted to drink champagne and watch My Boyfriend work in the yard. So he set me up on a little chair with a glass and I chatted with him as he pruned the plants, washed her car, weedwhacked the area lining the sidewalk. He swept the cobwebs from around the windows and fixed the automatic light that went on when someone passed by it. Then we went to the backyard where I fretted about where to plant the rose bush and he said, “You don’t have to decide right now.” And I was grateful for that because I wanted it to be the perfect place but I didn’t know where that was yet.
After a few hours of drinking champagne in the sun and watching him work, I got very tired. It was if suddenly all the lack of sleep that week hit me hard. My Boyfriend tucked me in on the air mattress and for the first time that week, I slept and I slept hard.
When he woke me up, it was dark outside. “Baby,” he whispered. “We can stay here as long as you like but we should start thinking about when we want to leave. You have an early flight tomorrow.”
“What?’ I said, with a fuzzy head. “Oh. Okay. No, we can go now. Yeah. We should get going.”
And we let the air out of the mattress and packed up our things and did the dishes. We turned out the lights and set the alarm and locked the door behind us. When we got into the car, My Boyfriend leaned my seat back and put a blanket over me. “Try to get more sleep if you can,” he said. “You need it.”
“Okay,” I said and pulled the blanket up to my chin, along with my Mom’s sweatshirt, which I still hadn’t let go of. As he put the car into drive, I sat up quickly and grabbed his arm.
“Wait,” I said breathlessly.
“What is it?” he asked as he put it back into park.
“I don’t want to go,” I whispered. And I felt my chest cave into itself and I began to sob uncontrollably. “I…I don’t want to leave her.”
“Oh, Tracey,” he said, as he hugged me tightly. “We’ll be back here in three weeks for good and then I promise we can come here whenever you like. We can come every day if you want.”
“Promise?” I said into his shoulder.
“Okay,” I said and pulled away. I leaned back into the seat and covered my face with the sweatshirt. “Okay…. I’m ready now.” And I squeezed my eyes tight because I couldn’t bear to watch us leave.
That night, at My Boyfriend’s house in San Francisco, I slept poorly. I had a constant stream of nightmares that had me bolt up with a start, or sit up screaming or wake up crying. Each time, My Boyfriend would pull me to him and circle me in his arms and whisper, “I’ve got you. I’m right here. I’ve got you.” And I’d fall back into a shaky doze.
The next morning we had to get up at 4am for my flight back to NYC. We were both exhausted.
As he drove me to the airport, I felt completely numb. I took my pre-flight Xanax and then felt even more numb.
“I’ll see you in two weeks,” My Boyfriend said, as he pulled my suitcase out of the trunk. “We’ll finish up your packing and get you back here.”
“Okay,” I said in a bland voice, nodding. I looked around the airport wordlessly, my vision going in and out. I looked up at the sky and squinted. “It’s so bright here.”
“Tracey,” he said, with concern in his voice. “Do you need to stay here longer? You can, you know. There’s no rush to get back.”
“No,” I said and waved my hand in front of my face. “I’ll be okay. I’m okay. I have to go back. I have to finish packing. The Cat is there, she needs me.”
“Are you sure, Baby? Seriously, if you need more time, you can have it.”
I blinked and took a deep breath. I knew I needed to pull it together. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I really am okay. In fact, I think it will be good for me to get back. I have so much to do for the move. It will be a great way for me to keep my mind off of things. And I really do miss The Cat. It will be good for me to see her.”
“Okay,” he said warily. “But please call me the minute you’re home.”
“I will,” I said. And then I put my arms around him. “I love you so much. Thank you….thank you for making me come here. I’m so glad I got to say goodbye. Thank you for…I wish I could say more than…”
“Stop,” he said. He gave me a kiss and brushed my hair behind my ear. “No need to thank me. You’re my family. I love you.”
And then we parted.
As I walked into the airport, dragging my suitcase behind me, I thought to myself, “It really will be okay. I have a ton of stuff to keep me occupied. I need to pack for the move and say goodbye to my friends and finish up my NYC Bucketlist. The time will go fast. I’ll keep busy and it will all be okay.”
When I look back on that moment now, I think to myself:
What a fucking fool I was.