My darling Wunderlings, I am sorry, but I told you a lie. Life has not been fireflies and lemonade stands, though there's been some. The image just sounded beautiful, like a place I would like to be rather than the place where I am.
I should explain.
Last week I stood on her patio, watering her plants. I thought "she'd be happy to come home and see these". As if she went away on vacation. But she did not. On the last Saturday in spring, just past dinner she said she'd come and do the dishes in a minute but rather sat down in her chair for a rest. She fell asleep, coughed a little, and she did not get up.
We buried her on the last day of spring. Can you believe that at least 300 people came to the church to say goodbye? Can you imagine that I stood up in front of all of them, refusing to cry, and told the world what she meant to me? I could have talked all day, if they'd let me. But did you know that the Catholic Church doesn't like anything secular to invade on their holy space? Just before I spoke I was told that the only reason I could talk about my godmother, my aunt, at her funeral was because my family has been so prominent in the church. God bless the poor sucker who is not. Imagine why I'm no longer Catholic. The priest said "keep it to 3 minutes". I stood at the marble lectern she bought for that church and spoke for more than ten. And no one was sorry that I did.
They buried her, as I said, on the last day of spring. I came back to the grave that night. Already the casket was in the ground, already the dirt was flattened over it. Under the Strawberry moon I sat in her dirt, pulling up fistfuls and telling her "I want you back. I want you back". A wish. It won't happen. I left, barefoot, but a clump of dirt in my hand.
I've so many relatives, so many people-more than 300 as I said. Everyone suffers. But to me, the pain is all around. If I leave my house and go west I will pass her house. When the girls and I go to swim lessons we pass her house. She lived there for more than 50 years. She let me live there for a while too. If I go east, I pass her grave. We saw how they tamp down the dirt with a noisy gas-powered tool. We saw how they cover the grave with straw. Inelegant, true. But how the details are done. We are forced to see them. When the girls and I go to tennis or soccer, we pass her grave. Every day, every day I pass both her house and her grave. I cannot stand the sadness. I want her back.
Two weeks ago I came home from her house, a little slip of a plant in the basket on my bike. I looked like a bush on wheels. She wanted me to have it from her garden. She had insisted and we dug it together. What did I know? This was an everyday thing. I wouldn't have guessed that two days later she would die. Last week I came home from her grave, the last of the dead flowers from her grave. I looked like a dead plant on wheels. Ferns and palms poking from my basket.
I want her back.
There are messages on my answering machine. Everyday things but in her voice. I won't hear again. My whole life I imagined how sad this time would be. Losing her is not like losing a parent, I know that. But it is awfully close. I'm off my rails a bit. I cry too much. I can't find it in me to be quite normal right now.
I want her back. Please understand, I'm just taking a bit to get back to right.