All too quickly, two years have come and gone. Under my apartment stairs, the rhododendron bush blooms. Daylight waits for me to get home.
My mom died while I was at work, on the morning of April 24, 2014. I can still look through my sent folder from that day. Combing through the eight composed emails, I can feel that day’s coffee on my tongue. I can smell the french toast searing on the grill. I can hear the sounds of the juicer whirring as it chews up carrots and vomits rainbows of pulpless liquid. The register slams and the dishwasher rumbles. My coworkers cackle in the kitchen.
I remember receiving a call from my mother’s phone and taking note to call her on my lunch. I flipped my phone over to stay focused. Minutes later, my phone wriggles as it vibrates on my desk. I take a peek at the screen. My older sister is calling.
Suffice to say, this was unusual. I jammed my phone into my pocket and freshened my coffee. “‘Going out for a break!” I announced aimlessly, my voice steadier than I’d expected.
I anxiously walked down the alley behind our building. I’d walked down the alley practically every day since 2011. Tiny raindrops freckled the ribbed grey concrete. My guts sank as I neared my destination – a small cove, safeguarding a maze of utility pipes and meters. The pipes hissed as I crossed my legs and leaned my back against the frigid marbled wall. I stared at the two missed call notifications. Reticent, I double-tapped my sister’s name.
When I heard the news, I let out a long, primal cry. I asked, “how?” repeatedly as we sobbed and apologized and uttered confused condolences to one another. I braced the walls along the alleyway, crawling back up the slow incline toward the cafe, stopping only to catch my breath and revel in the permanence of what had happened.
It is hard to believe this Sunday will mark another year without her. I will light my candles and toast to her but in the night I’ll look over the water at the Western sky and remember the first time I witnessed a sunset my mother had not.
Grief is April 24. It is January 14. It is September 9. It is June 26. It is a favorite holiday or a birthday. It is the days that remind you the days in between have come and gone. It is also the days in between.
I leave you with one question: on what days do you mourn?