becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.



the morning my dad called to tell me my mom had died, i threw on the first articles of clothing my hands touched: a dark teal top, jeans, flats. the same thing i had worn the day before. i put my hair up in a messy bun and i highly doubt i washed my face or brushed my teeth before k and i left to drive to my house.

news hadn’t gotten out yet, so it was a relatively quiet day. dad’s best friend was the first one at the house. a few hours later dad and i drove into town to take care of funeral arrangements; k went to the mall to get a black dress for herself, black stockings for me. when we got home, i had to call my cousin, who works for the phone company, to figure out how to check our landline’s voicemail – mom was the only one who knew how, and our inbox was filling quickly.

a handful more people came and went, and then finally around ten, we all shuffled to bed. it burned like hell to close my eyes, so instead i lay there in the dark, staring at the ceiling, tears leaking sideways from the corners of my eyes into my ears, into my hair. i’m sure i slept, though i don’t know how or how much.

it’s saturday now and family will be flying in. i get up and shower. k’s sister got me a beautiful sweater for christmas – it’s soft and white and sits just off the shoulders. i pull that on and some jeans, wear my hair in waves, add a pair of dangling white beaded earrings my mom had just gotten me. i do my makeup, a routine so automatic i could do in my sleep. i don’t think i bother with shoes or socks. it’s january in new york and i pad around my uncarpeted house barefoot.

i try to eat breakfast – my best friend had brought over tons of food the day before, yogurt and fruit and granola, to make sure i keep eating through the whirlwind – but my throat feels sutured shut. a few spoonfuls later i stop, put everything away, begin to wander aimlessly around the house.

the first person to arrive, after several phone calls, is a woman my father works with. she is loud and obnoxious and her first words to me are, “just feel lucky you didn’t have to watch her die in a hospital like i had to with my parents.” despite the lovely spread of cold cuts and kaiser rolls she has brought, i instantly abhor her and want her gone. she is irritating and gets drunk and stays far too long; i play with my dog.

family and friends begin to filter in and my father clings to them like life rafts. he is 6’5″ but today he looks like a little boy, his face crumpling every time he stoops down to accept a hug. looking at him breaks my heart, makes my throat swell shut and my lips tremble. i am trying to be graceful and strong; i stop looking when people hug him.

i brew coffee and answer the phone and bring people beer from downstairs. we amass a plate of lasagna, more cheese and cold cuts, a fruit arrangement, italian pastries, and at least two cakes. i touch up my makeup, lay off the mascara, keep detangling my earrings from my hair.

each time i answer the phone i am mildly surprised to hear my voice, so clear and even cheerful, sliding like silk from a throat burned raw by the effort of keeping in hours and days and a lifetime of wailing sobs stuffed into silence.

above all, i want to handle this with grace. i will not fall apart, because there is my father to think about. my mother was our family’s rock; without her, we need a new one. so i fix my hair and straighten my sweater and make sure everybody has a drink and a snack.

when i fall into bed that night, my eyes stay open like wired springs. tears leak sideways out of the corners of my eyes. into my ears. into my hair.


Author: jenn

impossible to define; indefinitely impossible. maybe i'll add more here later.

6 thoughts on “semi-automatic.

  1. Oh Jenn. *huge hugs* I am crying a ridiculous amount reading this, because it reminds me in such a raw way of when my Nana died. Just trying to hold it together and seem OK. And somehow, when answering the phone, it’s like the facts come out easily and without that gnawing beast that’s hiding and waiting on someone to say something emotional.

    Keep writing. Never stop writing. And know I love you and I know I would have adored your mom.

  2. It kills me to read that you’ve had such pain. You’re such a strong lady for putting this all out there. You’re so gifted.

    And yes, that is Jon! I’ve started bringing him home with me for holidays he can’t make it to Florida for 🙂 WE MISS YOU AND YOU SHOULD COME TO BOSTON ASAP. Especially since he and I live down the street from each other and we could do SO MANY FUN THINGS!

    • i have plans to hit up boston in late june!!! family thing for july 4th in brockton, but becca and i want to ambush boston for a weekend too!!

      and thank you, lovely. ❤

  3. they say people feel real grief after the loved one has been laid to rest… and the feeling of going back to the house that a loved one had lived in for years is unbearable.

    • yes that definitely has happened to my dad – my parents bought their house together and had lived there since 1976. it’s very hard for him to be there now, i think it just feels so unbearably empty. he does love the house though, and for right now is hanging on to it.

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