It’s different than I thought it would be.
She’s lived in Richmond for two months.
It’s like she’s a different person. That’s the hardest part. She’s like the Bad Barbie version of my mom. The dark side of who she used to be.
She was starting to pull herself together after she got here: she stopped shaking all the time, she was playing with the kids a little, she was smiling.
Then she got the phone call.
She came upstairs, her hands shaking like palsy. “Rick’s dead. Rick’s dead.”
We’d been eating lunch. She still had half a sandwich on her plate. She had left the table to take the call. I thought she should stop taking calls from her soon-to-be-ex drunk husband. Or his children. That all he was was trouble. That the only thing that happened after these phone calls is that she got terrified and couldn’t eat and walked around like a zombie.
But this time, she was gut shot.
You could see it, the way she held her body, with her stomach concave. She was hunched over and shaking, like she was trying to protect herself. “Rick’s dead,” she said, “Rick’s dead.”
We hugged her. We held her. We said we were so sorry.
I thought maybe it was a good thing, maybe it was a blessing. He was a drunk who wouldn’t stop drinking. His story could only end one way.
“I miss him,” she said. “I just miss talking to him. He was my husband.”
She is grieving. I understand that.
But it is hard. And she’s in so much trouble. Because she married a drunk. And drunks make a mess out of everything. And now it’s my mess too.
She can’t sell her house because her husband’s name is on the title. He was in debt up to his eyeballs and who pays that debt? And how does my mom sell her house?
It won’t always be like this, I know. I keep telling myself that. It won’t always be like this.
I love my mom and she’s a good person and I’m lucky to have her in my life. I’m just ready to have my old mom back, the pre-Rick version of my mom, the pre-guilt, the pre-death, the pre-grief, the pre-terrified verion of my mom.
I guess that will be the post-version of my mom. And she will be different. And that will be okay.
But the problem is that I want my old life back too. My life before my mom moved here. My independence. Weekends with the kids. The four of us, the known quantity, not the unknown. I knew how to make us happy, the four of us. I knew what worked.
But that is over now.