September, 2010

Dear Kids,

The 28th of September, 2010, was the last time I ever saw your Momie, outside of a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and in and out of lucidity. It was, in essence, the last time I ever hugged my mother. The last time I ever saw her with her makeup on and her nails done, and her lips not in dire need of Blistex. That September was the last time she would ever come visit us in Paris.

She was staying at the Ibis hotel at Porte de Clichy, and leaving for Germany the next day. The dog and I walked her in the afternoon back to the hotel from our apartment. I hugged her on the avenue de Clichy, never knowing that would be the last time I would ever hug my mother.

Sigh. There I go to that sad place. I don’t really want to go to that sad place right now. I mean, I need to go there, sometimes. Once every month or two. It helps me to keep my emotions in check, if I let myself feel them. But I don’t really want to go there right now. I just wanted to tell you about the last days that I had with my mom, and what we did. And what this day means to me now.

Much like her birthday, and her death day, I need to mark this day. The next time I would see her would be five months later, in California, in a hospital bed. I had been advised not to touch her because I was four months pregnant and she was fighting various hospital-induced infections. So I couldn’t hug her. So the end of September in 2010, three years ago now, was the last time I really, really saw her.

For the longest, longest time, I couldn’t remember the last time I saw her. It was absolutely bizarre. I could not remember the dates of her last visit, or what we did on her visit, the way I could always remember clearly her other visits.  My mind had gone into some sort of protection mode and blocked it out. Really, really bizarre reaction. Finally, maybe a little over a year ago, I asked my aunt if she remembered anything about her trip to Paris before coming to Germany. She told me she remembered that my mother was annoyed because the Ibis at that time was going through a major facelift, and the electricity kept going off.

Then it hit me like a bolt of electricity. That made me remember what we had done on our last day together.

The hotel had given her passes to the aquagym spa to apologize for the inconvenience. So on our last day together, while Son you were at the garderie, we went to the spa. She borrowed one of my bathing suits. It was funny because the electricity kept floating on and off there, and as such the jacuuzzi was not very hot. But we went in and talked, I wished I remembered about what, and I went in the sauna too, and we had a very relaxing afternoon, giggling whenever the electricity would turn off.

Yes, kids, I suppose if one is going to spend a last day on Earth with one’s mother, it might as well be at a hotel aqua spa in Paris with the lights going on and off.

You see, I knew could make this more upbeat.

It’s really, if I let myself go there, such a lovely memory. We had a lovely time while she was here. It was a good visit. She brought a disposable camera at Grandpa’s insistence and took photos of Son. And the dog, who was still around. We went to the Martin Luther King park one afternoon and took son to the playground there. The dog, so old, tagging along in the basket under the stroller. She was hungry one afternoon at a weird hour so we went to a cafe on Brochant and she had a sandwich saucisson sec with cornichons and a diet coke.

I can’t remember if we did anything else on that trip. I don’t think so. I think it was low-key and local that time.

She gave me her extra pass to go to the spa on my own one day. I haven’t done it yet. Obviously, the pass is expired, but maybe this winter, I will take a deep breath, and go. And sit where we sat on our last day together, and maybe, just maybe, I can do it and not be sad.

As a present that trip, she brought me a baggy t-shirt from Santa Monica, I was still pretty post-pregnant (even over a year later, ha) and was wearing a lot of baggy t-shirts. This one is black, and its theme is the last part of Route 66 stopping in Santa Monica.

I looked at that t-shirt recently while re-doing my t-shirt drawer, hidden away down in the back. I realized that on the back of the t-shirt, is written « The End ».

The End of Route 66, but it was also The End of the part of my life with my mother.

I think this winter I will start wearing that t-shirt again.


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