It isn’t the anniversary of her death.
Nor is it fall, the season I usually start to feel her absence.
But, grief doesn’t run on a calendar, so that I can cross off weeks or months until the fog lifts. Grief rises to the surface, intermittent, unpredictable, like bubbles in a bed of lava.
I’d had an argument. One that couldn’t be dissected on my own. In the car, I reached for my cell phone and thought, I’ll call her quick. It’s been a while.
“We had a fight,” I would tell her. “What am I supposed to do?”
Then, the rise, the burst, the sting. I put the phone down and placed my hand back on the steering wheel. My chest sank in a long exhale. My head floated.
It’s early this year, this hurt. I’m not ready.
I count back, almost nine years ago, and remember. The look on my husband’s face when he had to say the words: your mother died. The shock. The quiet, as I shut out the world for a while. The first time I smelled her favorite brand of perfume at the mall; I laughed in horror, because my mind flashed back to the funeral home. Months later, in a store fingering votives, I could have swore she was standing behind me. Once, at a conference, a woman approached her friends and started talking about dinner. In my peripheral vision, she looked like my mother. With my ear turned, her southern accent mimicked my mother, too.
When confused or full of doubt, I still look for her. I will her to visit me in my dreams. Or, I pick up the phone without thinking. Even after so long, the loss still upturns my heart and mind. So much, that I sit down, write another story about her, and try to rehash those last conversations in person and over the phone.
Why did I say that? Why did I hang up so fast?
And, where do I go from here?