Hi, there, Dear Reader. It is midday/early afternoon in Lithia, Florida, on Sunday, July 17, 2022. It is a hot summer day in the Tampa Bay area. Currently, the temperature is 87°F (30°C) under mostly sunny skies. With humidity at 78% and the wind blowing from the southeast at 7 MPH (12 KM/H), the heat index is 98°F (36°F). The forecast calls for thunderstorms to pass through the area during the afternoon. The high will be 93°F (34°C). Tonight, we can expect scattered rain showers. The low will be 76°F (24°C).
“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” ― Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
As you know, I tend to get melancholic at this time of year. As I noted above, today is Sunday in a mid-July weekend, and it was on a Sunday like this one in 2015 that my mom, Beatriz Diaz-Granados, died.
Of course, due to the vagaries of how time passes and how we humans measure it, today is not the seventh anniversary of Mom’s passing. That unhappy occasion rolls around on Tuesday, July 19, so I still have a while to go before I’m past the whole “Sad Anniversary” business.
That having been said, today feels eerily like that first Sunday that I endured – there’s no better word for it – after my mother was wheeled out of the house on a gurney to a waiting hearse that would take her to Caballero Rivero Westchester Funeral Home on that hot, rainy morning.
“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” ― Marcel Proust
Perhaps it’s the ambiance in this house as I write this. The Caregiver’s boyfriend, a guy she went to school in the late 1970s and early ‘80s and reconnected with – sub rosa – in 2020, died recently because of cirrhosis of the liver and other health issues. She’s in Miami now, where she will participate in the man’s funeral on Tuesday – the same day of Mom’s death anniversary.
The house is unusually quiet; the only sound I hear is some classical music I am streaming from Sarasota’s WSMR FM’s Internet feed. The Caregiver’s three young adult kids – including Gamer Boy, to my surprise – are all at work, so Sandy the schnauzer and I are the only two living beings in this house in Fish Hawk.
My old house was like this, too, on that depressing “first day without Mom” in 2015. My half-sister and her two shifty cousins Juan Manuel and Mauricio had left me alone per my request, although they took a lot of my mom’s personal things – including family photos we were supposed to share – before driving off to Caballero Rivero Westchester to get the funeral arrangements underway.
I can’t say I remember every detail of that Sunday in July with total recall. I had stayed awake – although away from Mom’s room – throughout the night of July 18/19, so I was tired, angry, scared, and depressed.
“Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
I also felt guilty that I had not stayed in Mom’s room until she breathed her last, but the downstairs room is the smallest room in the townhouse, and it was crowded. In addition to Mom, who was in a hospital-style bed and had been unconscious since 3:15 PM, the following people were present throughout most of that night:
- My older half-sister Vicky
- A hospice nurse from Catholic Services
- A Catholic priest to give Mom the last rites
- Vicky’s cousin Juan Manuel Pereira
- Juan Manuel’s wife Barbara, although she went home before Mom died
- Juan Manuel’s brother Mauricio
I popped in every now and then, but never for more than a few minutes. Not only was it crowded and hot in that small space, but I just couldn’t stand to be in there for long periods of time. Part of it was that I did not want to see my mom dying; I still feel bad about that, because I know that if the situation had been reversed, Mom would have stayed with me till the end.
Mostly, though, I stayed out of Mom’s room because I just couldn’t stand to be near my half-sister anymore. My dislike for her had grown exponentially since Mom became incapacitated five years earlier and knowing that she was going to make my life difficult now that Mom was no longer there to play peacemaker between us just infuriated me. I had to choose between being an asshole or being respectful of my mother’s final hours on Earth and avoiding drama even if it meant I was not in the same room as Mom when she breathed her last. I chose the latter.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
Mom died in the pre-dawn hours of July 19, 2015. The transport from Caballero Rivero took her body away around 6:30 AM or so. And even though I had been awake since 6:30 AM on Saturday, July 18, I did not sleep a wink until late night on Sunday, July 19.
As a result, my memories of how I spent that first Sunday as the de facto – if not de jure – owner of a townhouse in East Wind Lake Village are fragmentary. Confused. A fugue of sadness, regret, and anger.
Then, as now, I felt sad, lonely, and unsure of my place in the world.
Anyway, I have no idea what I will do for the balance of this hot, humid, and possibly stormy Sunday. I’ll probably game for a bit, and then I’ll take a break from the computer and either watch something on the family room TV or read a book.
And, on this note, Dear Reader, I will close this blog post. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.