a home no more

It’s mid-December, my mom has been dead for six weeks. The air is crisp and the days are short. Shalina texts me, asking if I can hang out and I struggle to say yes. I want to see her, but the weight of my grief is heavy on my shoulders. I feel it pulling me away from everything I once loved. I hate it but I embrace it.

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

Three miles I drive to the little blue house near the island. I am wearing black sweats and my hair is up. The Passenger station plays on Pandora and music floods my car.

As I enter, I am greeted by smells of cinnamon and clove. It is warm and it feels comfortable. Shalina’s mom Linda, engulfs me in a hug and I start to feel it. The sense of something I won’t be able to pinpoint until I’m driving home a few hours later, creeps over me.

I sit on the couch next to my friend, sinking into the cushions that wrap around me. She’s working on a paper project, covered in scissors and small scraps. I’ve brought my laptop but choose instead not to even open it. I don’t have the energy.

“What can I get you, Ang? I have Coke Zero, juice, water…” Linda trails off as she busies herself in the kitchen. Soon she emerges with a small tray of goodies. Snacks, are delicately presented and look delicious.

I feel it again.

We listen to music and talk a little. Shalina smiles and I try, but inside I’m dark. Christmas is coming and I can’t figure out how to make it happen without the heaviness taking over. I laugh a little and find the feeling strange and vow not to let it happen again.

Nerves are eating me alive, and I check my phone for texts from Justin, I ask how the kids are. I feel so anxious these days I can't enjoy anything. Linda pitter-patters around her home, a mimic of my own mother, her long time friend. It is cozy and warm, yet I continue to feel this gnawing until finally, I have to pack up.

“I need to get home.” I say without emotion.

Driving home through the dark stretch of Bethel Island it hits me, like a boulder from above. The strange and new feeling I have had all night. It blooms as a soft rain and soon a downpour so fierce I pull over. I am 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 have 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 has overcome me tonight. 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 quickly 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, has vanished into thin air.

It is completely gone.

I am alone.