I’m lying on the sofa in baby cat’s room. She’s cuddled up to me, purring, as I write. If I go too long without petting her or kissing her head, she presses her wet nose into my arm. The little stray is lost no more. I, on the other hand, am asea.
My neighbor left for California last weekend. There’s no one filling up the emptiness. I didn’t realize it was there until she left. That first night without her company, the grief pounced. I thought I’d made it through. Turns out I was just delaying it.
My brother has been dead five months. If we make it through two more months, that will be the longest I’ve gone without someone dying in my family since April 2012. Back in June, I was preparing for my mother’s death. When she went into ICU with DVT, I wrote a list of what I needed to do to wrap things up. The Death List. Cremation. Easy. We’ve used the same guy three times. Church for service? What’s one more time in that fucking chapel? Piece of cake. Cleaning out and selling the houses would take some work. My aunt in California loves the cat. And I’m becoming proficient at probating wills.
But my mom didn’t die. She went from ICU to intense inpatient rehab to a skilled nursing facility. She seems to have settled in well at the SNF. She has daily therapy. The psychiatrist visits. She’s getting some attention for the loss of her two sons and her husband. She got her hair cut in the salon. She gets manicures. (My mother never pampered herself. Ever.) She plays bingo. She goes to the ice cream social.
My mother didn’t die. At least not this time.
I leave in two weeks for the Great Bear Rainforest. I’ll spend nine nights sailing on a 54-foot boat from Ketcikan, Alaska to Bella Bella, British Columbia. I booked the trip shortly after my father died. I grew up sailing with him. We spent many summers at the family cabin in Ontario. Combining sailing and Canada shortly before the year anniversary of his death seemed like a fitting tribute. I didn’t know at the time I’d hit the trifecta, and have a third loss to grieve.
I’m hopeful the rainforest will restoreth my soul. For even a tiny sliver, I’ll be grateful.