|Snow storm - the day after|
And unbelievably, she still is. This December, in what I've come to refer to as "The Month" my mom actually died. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Thanksgiving Day. A week later they told her she had 3-4 weeks to live. On December 29 she passed. From the time of her diagnosis, until the end, I was with her. And it is a bittersweet month I will always treasure. If Adventure is, as I have come to define it, the time when you live close to the bare essentials of life. The starkest, realest adventure is that of the life and death kind and Mom was, it turns out, a great adventurer.
She never really understood my adventures. The extended backpacking and biking trips totally mystified her. Even the short day hikes, bikes, and paddles were puzzling. But when it came time for this last adventure she was amazing. It was raw, a month outside of 'regular life'. A month when just the essentials were important. When all people talked about was what we really meant when we said such and such, or why we did something years ago. A month when we looked through photo albums and learned things about each other and others in the family we didn't know. A month when often, we were just together, silently. A month when a veritable army of kind strangers came out of no where to provide the exact help we needed, even before we knew we needed it. And a month when old friends were there too, with loving words and arms to hold us. A month where I realized that much of mom's life was lived close to the essentials of life, and that was the reason she did not understand my need to seek out adventure. A month, that for a brief time, mom and I were adventurers together.
And as the weeks pass, my rude and exasperated reply to that insistent colleague rings even more true. I still expect it to be my mom when the phone rings between 6:00-7:00pm. I still remind myself to call her when there's a new episode of the "Big Bang Theory". I still check the garden so I can tell her when the first signs of spring appear. And then I remember, yup, she's still dead. Sometimes it takes a whole minute before that reality hits me upside the head. I want to tell her that the crocus's are up way too early, that Punxatawny Phil saw his shadow, or that my hair is finally starting to straighten but then I remember, I won't be telling her, she's "still dead", but somehow, our Adventure continues.