My Mother is Dead and Nobody is Saying So

How long must I wait?

Photo by Valeria Almaraz on Unsplash

Twenty-four hours ago my biological mother died and so far, nobody has notified me.

Do I deserve a notification? I don’t know. The whole situation is admittedly fucked.

Eleven days ago I had a new patient appointment with a neurologist trying to suss out the cause of my headaches. I was honest about my family medical history. I didn’t have the whole picture.

I’m adopted. I know a little. My mother had a stroke. I didn’t know at the time that particular day if she was alive or dead. I knew she had recently been on death watch. I didn’t know at the time exactly how old she was if she was still alive. Maybe sixty five-ish.

The doctor didn’t even notice this part of the history. I guess it didn’t play into her decision-making, my maternal family history of stroke in relation to my personal history of migraines. Weird. She also didn’t seem to think my newly discovered and diagnosed Type 1 Chiari Malformation was anything she gives one single solitary fuck about, including enough of a fuck to refer me to a neurosurgeon who knows anything at all about the condition to do further testing and consultation regarding it, but hey what do I know I have only suffered from it my whole entire life, but I digress.

I learned about the Reaper visit from a vague Facebook post. A bit of sleuthing a few degrees of separation, and confirmed. But still, no notification from those I’d expect to have heard from.

I texted my husband.

He knows. He knows when I raise my hand and tap out and ask him to take over that I’m serious. I can’t deal. This was one of those things. I didn’t know how long I could go, how long a wait was appropriate before I’d bubble over with rage on the person who would eventually be tasked with telling me this news. That short-straw drawer would get lucky this time. They’d only have to get as far as him.

I set off for the dentist for what I was hoping was a nice distracting visit with torturous drilling to take my mind off of things. I told him I was turning off my phone, and that if anyone tried to call me and got no answer, they might try him. I asked him to please just tell whoever it was that he would pass it along.

He understood.

I switched my phone into airplane mode and listened to two podcasts while I got two of my childhood fillings replaced. They don’t last forever, but in particular fillings placed by drill-happy dentists with Porches and cocaine habits in the 1980’s don’t last even worse.

As I exited toward the front lobby, the receptionist was busy with another patient, saving me from any small talk. I’d virtually escaped all human interaction, and with it avoiding the guilt from my disingenuous float through the morning.

It’s 9/11.

All I want to do on 9/11 is cry anyway.

My mother is dead.

She died and it’s hurricane season and of course it is and she was always so goddamn stubborn and would never leave that place and how fitting that she would die and they would plan a funeral while there is an evacuation in effect what the fuck is wrong with them.

I am pretending this is fine. Everything is fine. Business as usual.

I head for the door of this office that has only ever played current country music radio through their speakers. Ever.

This time You Can’t Hurry Love played me out the door. The good version. The one that my sister caught two beatings for from two mothers. First, the freshly dead one that birthed us both. She’d caught us listening to it and said if Granddaddy heard it, he’d slap us with some of that lightning that hit him twice and we’d be sorry. Then she showed my sister what that lightning felt like, probably.

She showed her more of what that lightning felt like later on in life, in alcohol-fueled and uncontrolled diabetic rages that are going to make any attempt at putting together a memory board for a funeral futile at best. Most people don’t like hearing this and this could be why nobody is talking to me or to this particular sister these days. Most people are very sorry for everyone else’s loss right now, instead of sorry for our loss back when we lost our mother when she decided to stop being our mother when she had a choice in the whole thing.

The second was my adoptive mother (see: Toast).

They both separately hated this song as much as we sisters loved it. They both separately were incredibly hateful and racist and somehow we are not.

I waited out the song in the lobby, then went to my car and cried all the way home, because I’ve had this following piece sitting in drafts for months, unsure what to do with it. I guess it’s time to turn it loose into the wild. In lieu of waiting for someone to notify me or spending money on travel for her service, I’ll be making a donation to a charity in the name of those who have filled the gaping holes in my life as surrogate family because mine is so so utterly fucked.

You know who you are. Thank you.


My sisters and I danced in a ceremonious circle and sang

joyful and silly and loud

to each other and our hairbrushes

the first song I remember them teaching me

before I could talk

we were SUPREMES

radio DJ blathering over the first measures

You Can’t Hurry Love

interrupted by a rage-filled finger mashing <eject>

shimmering chocolate ribbon spilling from the cassette

fluttering tinsel puddle at our dirty feet

We don’t listen to NEGRO MUSIC in this house

We don’t DANCE in this house

hurry up to The Church and pray for yourselves

ask forgiveness

for being so bad

so joyful

so silly

so loud

so dirty

No dancing in our circle now

six hands chained tight

praying that Jesus would forgive her

You Can’t Hurry Love