it was 5:32am when my dad called to tell me my mom had died. i was in CT with k and had, for the first time since being back up north for the holidays, actually turned my phone on and set an alarm. we were going to get up, the two of us, at 7am. we were going to shower and stumble our way to panera, load up on coffee, and i was going to finally finish the paper i was presenting in 8 days at a conference in tallahassee.
so it was by complete chance that my phone was on, ringer set to near-deafening levels, the morning my dad called.
the phone rang and dragged me out of that ooey gooey sleep that consists of a lover’s tangled limbs and the delicious warmth of blankets and skin. i snaked my arm out into the offending cold and poked around for my phone, still surfacing from downy dreamland. and it was somewhere around that time – as i picked the phone up off the nightstand – when i realized that it wasn’t my alarm going off, but the ringtone. i squinted at the screen, and roxy’s puppy face smiled back.
“Incoming Call: Home.”
i’m sitting upright now, wide awake and afraid to pick up. nobody calls at 5:32am unless it’s something terrible. “please don’t let it be bad,” i whisper as i hit the little green button, knowing full well that is will be.
k is awake now, my jumping out from under the covers having dragged her out of sleep as well. she sits behind me, pressed against my back. i barely feel her but i know she’s there – my world has been reduced to my father’s voice at the other end of the line.
“jenny? it’s dad. uh…” he breaks off here and i know he’s crying. “mommy died last night.”
“it’s grandma. he must mean grandma. HIS mom. he can’t mean my mom. i just saw her, i was just home three days ago. no this can’t be right it’s got to be a mistake my mom isn’t dead this cannot be right.”
i don’t scream, i don’t even really cry. hysteria laps at my throat and i ask my dad how, what happened. as he talks, i start to shake. full-body tremors. i don’t know this now, but they won’t stop for three days. every time somebody comes to the house or hugs me at the funeral they will ask me if i’m cold.
not cold; shattering from the inside, out.