Monday, February 07, 2011


I remember that I was busy, and that I got back home for a two-week break in a long trial, the biggest trial of my career at that point -- perhaps still. I remember that I was tired.

I remember that my grandmother had been in a car accident that Friday, and was staying at my parents' house.

I remember talking to my mother before the Super Bowl. Dad was too busy, making chili. And yes, he was very excited about the Giants.

I remember talking to her right after the Super Bowl. Yes, Dad was happy that the Giants won.

I remember talking to her about how much money I had spent on the Catherine Malandrino dress -- too much, in her opinion. I remember talking to her about the planning of the California trip, which was in its nascent stages.

I remember her telling me that she wasn't feeling well, that she was tired, and that she was stressed out about the eye surgery that was scheduled for later in the week.

I remember having a weird dream, and that, as a result, I wanted to call her all day on Tuesday. I remember not getting any answer: no cell phone, no house phone. Dad didn't pick up either.

I remember that I still hadn't heard from her on Wednesday.

I remember finding out from Nana that she had gone to the emergency room.

I remember the phone call from Dad in the evening, from her side in the hospital. I remember him telling me that it was serious. I remember him asking her if she wanted to talk to me, and hearing her say, faintly, "Not now." I remember being shocked, because she always wanted to talk to me.

I remember talking to my siblings.

I remember talking to Dad when he got home that night. I asked him why he left her alone. He said nothing was going to change overnight.

I remember the cell phone ringing in the middle of the night. 3:40 a.m. I remember knowing what it was before I answered.

I remember Dad telling me to call my brother. I remember telling my brother, "Please don't make me say it out loud."

I remember sitting down in the middle of my kitchen floor -- pretty much the only empty space in that entire apartment -- and bawling my eyes out.

I remember booking a flight on the internet.

I remember driving to my office in the middle of the night to send an email to my boss and coworkers and gather the things I might need for the week.

I remember the flight to Florida, writing in the crazy notebook.

I remember my dad picking me up from the airport, and that I kept saying the word fuck over and over again.

I remember going to the funeral home. I remember that my dad couldn't find his credit card, which if you knew him, you would know is the most unusual thing ever. I remember paying with my credit card.

I remember the entire family sitting around the house.

I remember meeting with the rabbi. I remember hating that the rabbi didn't know my mother.

I remember bits and pieces of the services, both at the funeral home and at her grave.

I remember sitting shiva. I remember her friends bringing food, stuff she would have liked. I remember that my friends sent a gift basket.

I remember all of this, but the details get fuzzy over time. What airline did I fly? Was the last time I spoke with her on Sunday or Monday? Did I wear a black suit or a gray suit to the funeral? What did the rabbi look like? Were my cousins there? Was it babka or coffee cake?

I try to hold on to as much of it as possible, but so much of it is hazy. I want to remember, but on the other hand, it just brings me right back to that moment in time, the searing pain and the sheer panic. Maybe I should forget.

Third Anniversary

I was cleaning through some things recently and stumbled across two sheets from a yellow legal pad, folded into eighths.  When I opened it, I found that it was the eulogy I gave at my mother's funeral.  I know I did it -- I wrote about doing it at the time -- but I don't really remember it.  It's like my memory of breaking my arm in the 8th grade and getting it set -- I know it happened, I have some recollection of it, but it's oddly distant and seems like it's something I watched happen to somebody else, rather than something that I participated in.  An out of body experience, of sorts.

This is part of what I said, or at least what I wrote to say:

My mother was my best friend.  She was a good friend.  She was patient and loving and wise and understanding -- most of the time, anyway.  Sometimes she was still my mom.

Not too long after I moved away, I bought a car.  She yelled at me, via cell phone, while I was in the dealership signing the papers.  "You're just a little girl, you can't buy a car by yourself.  Why couldn't you wait for me to get there?"

Even from a thousand miles away, she hated that I went shopping without her.  And she still wanted to negotiate me a better price.

There's more there, about my mother's laugh and her sense of humor, and how much she loved being with her family and friends.  But it's not a true reflection of what I felt then or what I still feel now when I think about it:  The speech was edited and sanitized and shortened into sound bytes that I, somewhat wishfully, believed I could get out without crying.  It's the notebook that is the real record of my feelings, then and, along with the postscript, now.  Only, now, on the third anniversary, those feelings exist in smaller, more manageable, less heart-wrenching doses.

I still miss my mother.  I can't believe it's been three years.  It alternately feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago.