It has officially been four weeks since my mother died, and three weeks since her funeral. I count it like a personal Lectionary, like the way today is 23 weeks after Pentecost. Because her death occurred on a Sunday, I always will. Sundays are about rest and reflection, and I cannot believe that there will ever be a Sunday again in which part of the reflection doesn’t include how beautiful church was and how I wish she’d been with me to see it… whether I am just going to church, or whether I was responsible for creating the experience.
There are so many firsts when your mother dies. This week it’s been the first period of my whole life that I didn’t have a mother to complain to, or when I lived in Texas, to bring me chocolate stashed in her purse. It seems like a small thing, but trust me when I say that small things are writ large. Besides, isn’t a period the most universal mother/daughter experience of which you can think? Are You There God? It’s Me, Leslie.
I have never done anything normally, and my period is no different. I got my first one when I was in the hospital for identifiable symptoms and no clear diagnosis… and I thought I was bleeding out the other end as a result. I was ten, maybe 11, so of course that’s how medicine worked. My mother had taught me about the birds and the bees long ago, but that information did not occur to me in the middle of being hospitalized for something else. I thought it was all connected. To my mother’s credit, she did not laugh. She just bought me my first package of Always and taught me how to use it.
It was a hallmark for me- the first problem in which I did not immediately run to my dad, the fixer of all things. This is because he wasn’t there, and she was. My dad, even then, was interested in medicine and had she not been with me, I probably would have told him first… because this wasn’t a woman thing to me. It was a symptom… of what, I did not know… but surely it wasn’t universal.
However, I’d just had a battery of tests, so if it hadn’t been for my mother, I would probably think to this day that meningismus and menarche were related. I mean, obviously everyone bleeds out of their hooha after a spinal tap, right? Right? #crickets
I am picturing Dr. Anthony spitting her coffee onto her keyboard at this point.
That image made me laugh, and anything that makes me laugh right now is invaluable. It is my reflex to laugh in the face of enormous pain.
Now I just have to buy my own Mr. Goodbars.