Message your family first. Call your wife. Tell them, she’s gone.
Sit vigil by her bedside until your brother arrives. Her brother brings espresso; her sister brings a cake. They had promised her something with flavor, near the end. Her brother touches a cup to her lips.
Go to her house. Start to assess what needs to be done: estate sale, house cleaning, realtor. Spend an hour or two catching her cats.
Collect her ashes from the funeral home.
Go to dinner with your family. She would have liked that. Order tequila shots all around; she would have liked that, too.
“She didn’t want a funeral,” her sister says. Try not to hate yourself for being relieved.
Swallow your tequila. Start planning something else: a vacation, maybe, to scatter her ashes somewhere she loved.
I am pleased and honored to share that my short essay about my mother, How to Remodel, has been published by the lovely folks over at Dead Housekeeping.
About Dead Housekeeping (from their website):
When people die we can still clearly picture the way they did things. We don’t remember our departed in a vacuum, but in motion, in particular. We can still see and sense “how they did it” years after the doer’s deaths.
This is a heartfelt look at loss through the lens of the home.
I highly encourage you to spend some time reading through the essays published on their site. Touching, funny, poignant, and raw – these stories will not disappoint you.
My mother and I in 1995 or so
We got the kids’ school pictures yesterday. We send them to the grandparents every year for Christmas: four different addresses. Our mothers, our fathers. My wife shook the pictures out of the envelope, showed them to me: N’s goofy grin, Z’s untamable hair. Three sets of photos. Three sets, not four.
My mother’s death did not leave a gaping hole in our lives. She wasn’t woven into the fabric of my everyday. Instead, my mother’s absence is a series of tiny voids: eyelet lace. One less person to tag on the photo of the kids’ Halloween costumes. One less phone call on Thanksgiving. I decorated our house this weekend with the garlands and lights and red velvet bows that she brought me for the first Christmas after N was born. I snapped a picture on my phone, and didn’t know who to send it to.