GRIEF & LIFE AFTER LOSS // www.angiewarren.com

In 2009 we lived by my parents for two years, just doors apart. After dinner my mom would show up begging me to walk with her. Often times I had an excuse, but she rarely let me use it and I joined her more than I didn't.

In early spring, our walks took us by a certain fence near the grocery story, with the most intoxicating air. We knew we were near long before our eyes found them. Purples, violets, whites. Billowing over the old worn down fence, nearly touching the ground. Wisteria.

Each time we passed by, my mother told me about them. How long for maturity, where they grow best, and that some day she would have a house covered in wisteria. Each time we repeated this mantra, and each time we snapped off a vine for ourselves. Like school girls we giggled, and ran away, our wisteria bouncing and falling into the wind as we went. We did this each walk until at last, the heat of late spring had taken them and all that remained were empty stems.

Six years would pass, in the spring of 2015 I nearly ran off the road when I saw them. A similar fence, with a similar billowing of purple over the side, nearly touching the ground. There to my left were the most intoxicating purples, violets, whites. Wisteria.

I stood for a moment, eyes pressed shut, inhaling their air. I tried to remember Clayton Road and her own wisteria, my mom standing next to me, telling me her tales. I tried to recount what she had taught me, how long for maturity, where did the grow best?

I grabbed a handful for myself, caring very little for those watching. Gently bringing them to my face, feeling high on flora, I was transported in time. There wasn't giggling or running away, I couldn’t hear her voice behind me, but I'd like to think she was smiling from Heaven, in a mansion covered in wisteria.

A Home No More

GRIEF & LIFE AFTER LOSS // angie warren

It was mid-December, my mom had been dead for six weeks. The air was crisp and the days short. Shalina texted me, asking if I can hang out and I struggled to say yes. I wanted to see her, but the weight of my grief was heavy on my shoulders. I felt it pulling me away from everything I once loved. I hated it - but I embraced it.

“I’m heading to my moms. We are going to just work on projects, but you should come.” Her words popped up on the screen of my phone.

Three miles I drove to the little blue house near the island. I wore black sweats and my hair was up. Passenger played on Pandora as music flooded my car.

I entered, and was greeted by smells of cinnamon and clove. Warmth surrounded me, and it felt comfortable. Shalina’s mom Linda, covered me in an embrace and I started to feel it. The sense of something I wouldn't be able to pinpoint until I was driving home a few hours later, began to creep over me.

I found my place on the couch, sinking into the cushions that wrapped around me. My friend worked on a paper project, covered in scissors and small scraps. I had brought my laptop but chose instead not to even open it. I didn't have the energy. Opening that laptop felt akin to lifting a car above my head.

“What can I get you, Ang? I have Coke Zero, juice, water…” Linda trailed off as she busied herself in the kitchen. Soon she emerged with a small tray of goodies. Snacks, were delicately presented and looked delicious.

But then, then I felt it again.

We listened to music and talked a little. Shalina smiled and I tried, but inside I was dark. Christmas was coming and I couldn't figure out how to make it happen without the heaviness taking over. I laughed a little and found the feeling strange, and vowed not to let it happen again.

Nerves ate me alive, and I checked my phone for texts from Justin, I asked how the kids are. I felt so anxious lately, unable to enjoy anything. Linda pitter-pattered around her home, a mimic of my own mother, her long time friend. It was cozy and warm, yet I continued to feel this gnawing until finally, I had to pack up.

“I need to go home.” I said without emotion.

Driving home through the dark stretch of Bethel Island it hit me, like a boulder from above. The strange and new feeling I had all night. It bloomed as a soft rain and soon a downpour so fierce, I had to pull over. I was crying a gut-wrenching cry.

I miss having a home to go to.

I have a home, of course, the home I share with Justin and the kids. I miss having her home. I miss the feeling of being able to go there with a project, or my babies, or my thoughts.

I miss with a ferocity I had yet to feel, the knowledge that my mom and dad’s house is there for me. The knowledge that I can go at any time, and she will whip up whatever I’d like to eat. The knowledge that I can sit on the couch, and talk, and laugh, and just, be.

This overcame me that night. The reality that I no longer have a parental den. Flashes through my mind begin - Shalina smiling, Linda serving, candles burning, music playing. Just as easily, I can see my mom standing in her doorway, apron on, my dad on the computer, the little yellow lamp glowing in the living room. The idea of having a soft place to land, in the midst of both good times and bad, had vanished into thin air.

It is completely gone.

I am alone.