Thursday, April 22, 2004


The shape of my family unit has totally changed.

I thought, by this time, I would want to talk about what the past two days have been like--the funeral, flying to Chicago for the burial, my boot adventure--but it's too much. I get overwhelmed. I'm a writer, yet I can't get it all down. It's too much.

So Spark just called, and it was good to hear from her, even if her long-awaited, just-moved-into new apartment is apparently killing her with mold. We talked for about twenty minutes, and then I was trying to save her number in my cell, and her entry is very close to "F"... where the one entry was "folks".

And I had to change it.

I erased the entry, which had been the landline number for my parent's apartment, and edited "Mom" (which had just been her cell) so it had the landline.

Then I hugged my stubbly knees to my chest and started crying. My sweat has smelled different, these past several days; although I'm bucking the traditional observance and keeping up with the soap and running water (and deodorant and Opium), I can still smell my grieving. It is not the honest sweat of exercise or sex, but neither is it the sickly sweetness of alcohol metabolizing through the skin. It's something else, acrid and insistent. It might have to do with all the sugar I'm eating, mindlessly; it could be any of a dozen things. But in my current emotional state, it is the smell of loss.

There were three of us. We were a unit. Now there are two. It's not just that there is a hole in my life, or in my mother's; now there's a space in the group hugs we had from the time I was so short that it was all knees to me. I am no longer surrounded, enveloped.

I don't think it's coincidental that I've been feeling taller, the past couple of days. And it's not just the boots, about which there is a funny story I will soon have to tell. There is a space I feel I will grow to fill, now, somehow. I felt it at the gravesite, when I took my hand from my aunt's so I could put my arm around her shoulders and she put her head on my shoulder. I thought I could delay my adolescence indefinitely, I tell people, by not getting married or pregnant, by not buying a house, by not having a "real" job.

But there are other things that grow us up. We are two-thirds, now, my mother and I, and we feel it so keenly that it barely needs to be spoken (although we have been talking, a lot, and repeating ourselves a lot too.) Eventually we will be some kind of whole again, but it's so hard to see from here.