She showers and washes and dries her hair. She knows that family will be here soon. Slipping on black slacks and a black and ivory long tunic, she shuffles into her shoes and then goes to the living room, where she sits down to wait.
The kids come over from the apartment behind the house. She greets them and sits down to wait. Others arrive, family and friends and still she waits.
The waiting is endless.
She knows who she’s waiting for. She believes this is all a dream. She believes that if she texts him…he might text her back and she sends multiple pleading, begging, desperate texts to his phone number. She suddenly remembers that he had left her a message on voice mail…she hasn’t listened to it. She pulls it up on her phone and stares at it a moment and then impulsively touches her finger to the “play” symbol…
“Hi! It’s me! Just calling to say “hi!”. I’ll talk to you later. Love you. Bye.”
The last message he left for her. She weeps uncontrollably.
The time drags. Minutes like hours, hours like days. It’s finally time to go to the memorial. She doesn’t remember going there or walking through the door. She assists with set up…a dozen red roses, an electric guitar, a 12 string acoustic guitar and then places his ashes on a pedestal between them. She hangs his “Thompson Theatrical” hat on the 12 string, The lights in the theatre are dimmed and a spot light illuminates the display and a small speaking podium with a microphone. She stares until someone finally comes up to talk to her.
The “visiting hours” before the memorial service are a blur to her. Hugs from friends, sweet words and offers of help, she can’t process any of it. She feels like she should DO something…offer drinks or food or to mingle to make sure that everyone is doing okay. Everyone tells her “no…this is for you “. She can’t stand still and eventually begins to mingle among the mourners, trying to be sure that she’s talked to everyone.
The service begins. She’s in the front row but she couldn’t tell you who sat near her. The tribute video begins and she and her daughter dissolve into sniffling, sobbing messes. Someone has their arm around her. She doesn’t know who. She tries to focus, she tries to engage…but she can’t. She looks at the ashes in their box on the stage. She can’t understand anything that’s happening. She is shattered. Her mind no longer functions.
The service is over. Friends and family hug her and take their leave of the service. It’s snowing heavily. They gather their things and she rides home with Tom’s brother and a friend of Tom’s. They chat on the way home and she tries to contribute but she can’t understand the words coming out of her mouth.
Finally at home, friends are family are at hotels. She is alone with her son and his girlfriend who live in the apartment above the carriage house. She puts on her pajamas and gets her pillows from the bed. She lays down on the sofa…to wait…to wait for sleep, to wait for him. Greg and Brianne settle in to watch some TV with her…they wait until she falls asleep and then creep out of the house to their apartment. She awakens later to call for them, then realizing that she’s alone, the grief floods her again. She paces the house and then finally lays down again, hoping sleep will come, that someone will come to stop the feeling of waiting….and waiting and waiting and waiting.
Surely, this must be a mistake. Certainly, he’ll come through the door any moment and say that he’s fine and there was all a big mistake at the hospital or, she’ll wake up from a coma to find that none of this really happened and that she’d been in a terrible accident, but Tom was healthy and fine.
Surely, that’s what happened, and she closes her eyes to wait until sleep pulls her down into the dark.