Today was my mother's birthday, and three weeks from now will be the 60th anniversary of her death. She died suddenly, from chlorinated hydrocarbon fumes inhaled while cleaning a rug the night before, three weeks after her 38th birthday.
Sixty years. Not just 60 years of time passed, but those 60 years mean that I am eons beyond the 9-year-old who lost her mother. And yet . . .
I read for an hour in bed tonight. The book was Crow Lake, by Mary Lawson, who writes about Canada. She's a good writer. In this book the narrator was 7 years old when her parents were killed in an accident. I read through that part, disturbing and certainly not pleasant but manageable—even when she tells how the little girl didn't believe her parents were really dead, and I remembered the very same disbelief, and the terrible realization in the funeral home that I'd been wrong.
But then the writer spoke of pictures of children who have experienced trauma, and the blankness of their eyes, and I remembered that blankness too—remembered feeling it within—and I put down the book, unable to read anymore.
And that explains why I was downstairs an hour after midnight, cleaning the bathroom and then leaning for a while against the front door, staring out at the rain.