Two years ago, it was Sunday. As per the usual Sunday tradition, I had been helping my mother clean out her rabbit cages; it was a task I had helped her with since I had left my job at the Department of Defense. In the winter prior, she had gone through some elective surgery which turned into a big mess, and I had taken care of her rabbits for about a full month. My sister had only just come back a week prior, having been deployed for the duration of 2017. So many events in that short period of time feel like a blur, all spun together in such a way that sometimes I’m not sure they were real. I don’t remember the work that day being particularly hard, easier than it usually was now that I think about it. Much like it was today, it was a pleasant day, relatively warm for March. We knew it wasn’t going to last, so we made the best of it.
After we had completed our cleaning routine, we had gone inside for a cup of coffee and my mother wanted to work on some art concepts as potential covers for The Fifth Letter. I spent some time refining a few of my own concepts, then had to leave to take care of a few things of my own. I told my mother I would see her later; she said the same.
Those were the last words between my mother and I.
That evening, the last message my mother ever sent to me was the latest work she had been doing, to get my input on it. An hour later, she was gone. I can remember the time between, having a sudden feeling of imbalance and temporarily being unable to stand up straight; I figured I was simply too tired or something, and my usual inner ear balance difficulties were cropping up. I sometimes wonder if it was just a shock wave rumbling through my world, letting me know that everything was going to change.
As a child, one adjusts to the idea that they will eventually have to bury their parents. It’s a fact of life that I saw my mother go through and know that soon, my father will go through as well. But one doesn’t anticipate sudden loss in this day and age; one doesn’t expire from an unknown affliction so quickly, with no idea it was there. But it happens and we deceive ourselves into thinking it won’t. That only happens to others and it won’t happen to us. That it is a numbers game we will all beat.
On March 25, 2018, my mother died at her desk. A problem with her heart, they said. It was sudden and quick, yet despite everything that’s happened since, I always ask myself what would’ve happened had I stayed? What if I’d put off my usual chores and stuck around a bit longer? Worked on my artwork a bit longer there? Written something? Done anything except leave her alone? Would things have been different? I don’t know; I don’t have the power to speculate. Things might’ve just continued as they did.
In the time since, I’ve been listless and aimless; stagnant and alone. I wasn’t sure if it was worth continuing to be an author, even an unsuccessful one. In this day and age, how does one make it in such an industry that is highly dependent on one’s social skills? I had made the jump because my mother had told me so as long as I wrote, it didn’t matter; she would handle all the social aspects of it. Then, as now, I was a very pessimistic individual, not prone to believing I could hack it in such a competitive industry. I often ask myself if she had just suggested I pursue it to keep me from being driven to madness by the United States Government.
As time goes on, I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort. I’m not sure if it’s worth trying to keep going, screaming into a faceless void at the edge of an abyss. I’m not sure if I’m no longer beholden to my mother’s promise, that as long as she was alive I couldn’t kill myself. I’m not sure if all those dreams of suicide during my last year working for the Department of Defense were a vision of the future or just subconscious nonsense. I keep going, in what feels a vain endeavor, towards a future I don’t know if I can be a part of. Or, more succinctly, if I want to be a part of it. I don’t know if tonight, I’ll put a bullet in my head and leave this forsaken place, continuing my journey to elsewhere, where hopefully I’m not rejected as this world has rejected me. But I also don’t know if there’s any place out there where I’ll be accepted; it often feels that there’s no place for me to go, in this world or beyond. The one thing I can be certain of is no one will miss me, which is good because I’d hate for what few friends and family I have left to cry over old bones.
It’s been two years. Wherever you are, mother: I miss you.