Then I went to see my mom's house. From the outside it looked the same, but from the inside - and these people were very gracious to let me come in when they had only moved in the day before - there was nothing that reminded me of her. Even the beds were in the "wrong" positions.
Next I went to the neighborhood cemetery she always loved - we all did. When we were kids we dared each other to walk through it at night, and in the winter we speeded down some of the less populated hills. We walked among the tombstones and marveled at the stories they told - of people who lost four children in one week, of men who declared undying love for their dead wives but who were not buried in the same plot. The bench is the one we sat one more times than I can count. She would always leave seed for the blue jays and we would watch them cautiously wait for us to leave before they would eat it.
The grave stone for Silas Hawk has been pushed over, but I have long thought of giving that name to a character.
Next I went to Graveyard #2 and laid a poppy on the grave of my old friend Penny, who died of a brain tumor when we were in first grade.
Then I met the Flower Girls for lunch. They called themselves that because they had all worked, as Mom had, at one flower shop or another. They said it was good to have a foursome again. Each one missed different things about her - her phone calls or her emails, her sense of humor or her empathetic listening. They not only told stories about her but they acted out her part. In them, I could see her again. Hopefully in me they could see her, too.
After that, it was a trek to another small town to the Veteran's cemetery where my mom's and dad's ashes are interred. I was running late and by the time I finally found it, all I could do was take five minutes to stand there and cry on this
very blank looking stretch of grass. I choked out "You were good parents." I remember being with my brother at the funeral home while they offered us some of the standard platitudes we might put on the gravestone. "Forever in our hearts" seemed good to both of us. It also didn't seem like the kind of thing you should decide when you are dazed by grief.
Then I had to run back to my car in time to make drive to another town to do a newspaper interview. The photographer took a million pictures. Hopefully he used the filter that makes you look younger and not tear-stained or sleep-deprived.