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she's so dead to us

Friday, June 15, 2012

What Really Matters

So clearly that New Year's Resolution to blog once a week was a total farce, but I comfort myself with the fact that I only have 49 followers and maybe one of you actually reads this, so to you, dedicated fan, I apologize. I did, of course, have a series of excuses to end all excuses. Like the two weeks of vomiting that took place in my house starting the Saturday after Christmas, which was quickly followed by the hospitalization of my mother in February, where I visited her every day until she passed away in April, and then I had to deal with funeral arrangements and being her executrix (which sounds like a superhero name, but let me tell you, is no fun), so . . . yeah. This is a huge run on sentence, but there you go.

I'm only going to say a few things about the loss of my mother. They are 1) Nothing I have ever experienced could have possibly prepared me for the mind-numbing, life-stopping, complete black hole of sadness that overcame me and still hovers around my person twenty-four hours a day waiting to engulf me at any random moment. Like when I see a gift she gave one of my kids or hear a song she liked or open a can of tuna fish (don't ask). 2) Every day I think, about 42 times 'oh I have to call mom and tell her that' and then I realize I can't. 3) I'm not saying you HAVE to have a relationship with your mom, because if your mom is evil or sucks or whatever, I get it (I don't have a relationship with my dad), but if you DO have a relationship with your mom, you should call her and tell her you love her. Now. Go. Yes, I'm serious. I'll wait.

Okay, you're back? Here's what I was actually going to blog about. The weirdest after-effect of losing my mom is the things I suddenly care about that wouldn't have bothered me before and the things I don't give a crap about that I used to obsess over.

For example: Last week I had this big event at Books & Greetings, this local bookstore near my house. Jen Calonita and I invited five of our writerly friends to come do a panel with us, answer questions and sign books. (In case you're curious, Elizabeth Eulberg, Susane Colasanti, Jenny Han, Wendy Mass and Melissa Walker were the fabulous five.) Now, four or five months ago, I would have spent half the day before the event rummaging through my closet, trying to decide exactly what to wear, trying on outfits, cursing my shoe collection and searching my face for upcoming zits. Know what I did this time? Nothing. I got up Saturday morning, showered, went into my closet, and put on the first thing that made me say "Oh, yeah. That looks cute." And both Jen and Jenny gushed over my shirt. For reference, here's a pic from the event:

Now, on the flip side are the things that piss me off now, that I wouldn't have given much thought to before. Like when I smile at people who are behind the counter at a store and they don't smile back. Or when someone looks at one of my frickin' adorable kids and sneers like they're so annoying. Or when I get cut in line, or the dude at the drive-thru window gives me the wrong thing or I get overcharged for something. A few months ago, I was not a complainer. Now, you'd better not cross me, man. I'll tell you what the hell is up.

The funny thing is, I have NEVER been able to speak up for myself, but I do remember the very first time I told off someone working in retail, and it was on my mother's behalf. This guy at Lord and Taylor gave her one of those impatient sighs this one time because she couldn't find shoes that were comfortable with her ever-present, painful corns. This was about ten or fifteen years ago when I was intimidated by the guys behind the register at TCBY, let alone some dude in a suit who was twenty-years my senior. But I snapped. I told him to have some manners and something like "Do you think she enjoys this? Do you think she likes being in pain with every step she takes and having to sit here surrounded by five-hundred pairs of gorgeous shoes being forced to try on the ugliest ones and not even be able to feel comfortable in those? No. So if you don't mind, get us a size up and quit it with the sighing." Yeah, I actually did say that. So now I wonder . . . maybe the fact that she's not hear anymore has somehow made me braver. Maybe now that she's not here to stick up for, I've learned to stick up for myself.

Or maybe I'm just pissed at the world that she's gone and I'm taking it out on everyone around me.  Whatever the case may be, I'm curious to see if it continues.

And, BTW, thanks to the woman at Teen Author Carnival who inspired me to start blogging again. Hope you're the one person reading this! :)