Breathe Again

R.B. Winters
R.B. Winters
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The last nine days have gone by with such ferocity that it’s difficult to recall which things happened when and where. Everyone has been very kind in trying to do their best to reach out and show support. Those who know me well understand that being in the vicinity of me is more than enough to show support. There is no need to provide condolences, apologies or well wishes. For normal people these help them to feel better, for me they itch like a heavy wool coat I’m unable to remove.

Some have asked me what has happened over the last few days, others have probed for information, so in an effort to let everyone in while keeping you at arms length here it is…

I arrived in Utah late last Monday night. Having fallen apart on the plane I pulled it together once we were on the ground as I had to stop grieving and begin working. And work I did, hitting the ground running, early the next morning myself and four others went to my mother’s apartment. I was intent on cleaning out the entire place in one afternoon. It was my first visit, and it was going to be the last. With the help of additional hands and my completely unemotional decision making, every item was either given to someone who could make use, donated to charity, or kept by me. I strictly kept things I knew my mother loved, or I had been instructed to take and care for.

You see, when we arrived at the apartment, I was already numb. Directly before heading to the small town, it was necessary to stop by the mortuary and finalize all the details. My siblings were required to come as I needed their signatures to approve the cremation. Everyone in the room was teary eyed, except for me. The gentleman assisting seemed surprised. I’ll admit, even I was a bit surprised by how stone faced I was able to remain as we picked through family history and unpleasant details, such as which urn in which to place the cremains. The decisions were simple, a hundred times my mother had told me exactly what she wanted done. All that time I thought she was being morbid, I didn’t realize their was something wrong. And I’m glad that on one of those occasions, when she insisted I spread her remains, I asked if I could keep just a little. She agreed and so in a silver cylinder a piece of her hangs around my neck.

After the mortuary and after the apartment, you’d think things were complete. What I didn’t realize is that you have to go through a person’s entire life: Bank accounts, electric accounts, cable accounts, credit cards and turn each of them off. Explaining to the customer service representative what has happened, throwing salt in your wound over and over. And then to add the icing, they send you the final bill. I don’t mind paying them, I don’t mind paying for any of this. I’m happy to do so to ensure that my mother’s name is forever clean and not stained with angry creditors trying to chase her in death. The worst of this is her car. She and her ex had a deal that when it was paid off the title would revert to her. Now he’s battling me for the car to give to his new fiance. I’ve never had such a low opinion of any human being…and I’ve met some real trash. Even this is something I don’t mind dealing with, my mother made it clear the ex could not have the car, and so I will fight him in court with everything I have until he either gives up or eventually dies. The reality is I’m younger and have a lot more time to drag this out.

Ending the official strings attached to death was the wake. For years, my mother, had told me she wanted beer and rock music. No crying. I found a pub with a jukebox, set up a Facebook invitation, sent a few text messages and provided one last party for someone who shaped the entirety my life.

Though things are resolved for the most part, there is this nagging voice coming from a hole in me. It reminds me constantly that the person who always encouraged every endeavor of mine, pushed me to be better, reminded me how proud they were of my accomplishments and knew everything about me is gone. Though there’s nothing left unsaid between us, no regrets, I am severely disappointed that twenty-eight years was all the time we were allotted.

So this is for my mom:


And this is for me: