I just sat down and realized my mother was dead. In an instant I see her as the children’s choir director when I was in third grade with her little skirt and jacket combo… which she later replaced with a scarf because of Liz Claiborne. She’s sleeping next to me in my queen-sized bed and we’re talking late into the night and I see her at McDonald’s carrying a second full order of food because I had already gotten our food, sat down, and she told them they’d forgotten our number. I ate too much Filet-O-Fish but I hadn’t eaten in two days so I didn’t mind… until we went on a tour of the city and I felt like a Sumo wrestler as I walked. There’s the moment at my thirteenth birthday party where she told me I was getting my own phone line and crying at the prose on the Hallmark that she wrote under the obligatory rhyming poem. There’s sitting on a stool at the bar doing my homework while she cooked and I couldn’t do math. There’s watching her call out every name in the house until she gets to the dog. There’s the way she drove, rocking the accelerator so you felt like you were on a dinghy about to get sick. There’s my third grade birthday party set up as a Peter Pan amusement park and I was Peter Pan. There’s my mom after me coming home from a date with a boy and I had a hickey on my neck and failed to convince her it was a curling iron burn. There’s the way she carried the picture of my junior homecoming in which I was wearing a rainbow ring and standing next to my beard for years on end, but said it was just a good picture and it was really the last one she’d see in which I looked remotely heterosexual. I am positive that it stayed in her wallet until she died, along with my eighth grade prom picture I made by myself because my boyfriend went to a different school and I couldn’t invite him…. but there was no way I was wasting that makeup and that hair. There’s everything she wanted me to be and everything I actually was.
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