When we got home, my mother immediately started to drink. My father had left for another business trip that morning, and had no idea. These same trips are where neighbors have all speculated he was seeing another woman, Nicole. It was based on the evidence that he was gone a lot, he started dating Nicole only a few months after my mother's death. He married Nicole about two years later. But in all fairness, I never saw evidence of this, so whether he was fooling around on my mom or not, well... it's just idle speculation. He's still married to that poor woman, and she loves him like my mother did. But the next few days were me feeling alone as my mother went through her various stages of dealing with things she didn't want to deal with.
I didn't tell a soul. I don't know why; I guess I was just trying to deal with the shock. I didn't tell my friends, I didn't even tell Kate or Neal. Looking back, it felt so unreal, it was hard to grasp that I would have to be at my house, going and getting surgery that may not work, no college, no future, possibly being bedridden for years and ... I just couldn't think past the dense fog of uncertain negativity that paralyzed my tongue. On top of that, Kate was going through some pretty terrible stuff on her end. She had gotten some kind of sickness that covered her face with boils, and her parents had started drinking again, so I was trying to give her advice, which was unsuccessful to say the least, and not only because of her choices: I was just a terrible advice giver for what she needed, and she was reacting poorly to it. Kate was upset, and couldn't deal with me. Kate was my best friend, and when I needed her most, I was completely blowing our friendship.
So by Friday night the relationship between my mother and I was all just in a sorry mess. I wanted to deal with the issue, she did not. She was drunk, I had to deal with it. There was a lot of screaming going on, because suddenly the whole "I want to be an astronomer" dream was shattered, my mother was doing this, "what about MY feelings," and I couldn't take it. She lapsed into the "don't you love me?" guilt trip (a classic of hers when she didn't get her way with me), and like a lightning bolt through my head, fueled with anger, despair, and the quest for some witty saying reminiscent of an after school special, I said the following line: "I can never love you, until you love yourself."
I can never love you, until you love yourself.
I play that line over and over in my head, because it was literally the last thing I said to my mother. I stormed into my room and locked the door. I heard my mother crying, wailing, and carrying on. Although she didn't actually speak words, she didn't seem to be directing them at me, either. Just a lot of crazy, hysterical ranting and wailing at the walls. We had argued like this before, but I felt a bit smug that I trapped her in such a true statement. She had no self-respect, I thought, and so hopes others will love her when in fact, they pity her. She didn't continue the argument, and I went to sleep, crying about how unfair and alone I was.
I got up the next morning, and got ready to go to Kate's house for our weekly Dungeons and Dragons game. I had braced myself to try and apologize to her for my stupid advice, and just try and listen to her, like she had been trying to get into my thick head for weeks. It was a cold January Saturday morning. Just before I left, I went to tell my mother where I was going, if she was still lucid. I did this so she wouldn't call Kate's house asking if I was there. She'd do that a lot when she was at this stage of chatty drunk; she would also could call random people to say she was not drunk. This is how my mother was viewed as the local village drunk, because she had a huge address book (which I still have).
I saw my mother sitting on the edge of the bed, very still. This was not unusual. Sometimes she passed out sitting on the toilet, so I thought the least I could do was to push her back so she was lying on the bed.
When I did so, her body felt oddly stiff and cold, and when she fell back, her face was a deep purple, and a death rattle came from her lungs. I wasn't an EMT, and I had no prior medical training beyond first aid, but at the moment, two parts of me split: the part that said she was dead, and the part that said I can't deal with her being dead. Not now. Please God, not now.
I called 911, and the circus began.
Parts of this start to fragment as the shock spread through my system like a slow poison, so I am sorry if this seems distant and disjointed. I called 911, and a very nice operator asked me questions, and said yes, she's probably dead, I am sorry, sweetie. Her voice was lilted with a practiced sympathy, which was actually comforting because it felt genuine. She must have detected I was going into shock. The ambulance came in less than 5 minutes. I had never called 911 before, and I was shocked it was this quick.
I led the two medics into the house. I explained the situation. They established she was dead within a few more minutes, but they seemed weird about the whole thing, like something was amiss. They kept keeping me out of the room. One of them made a call.
When the phone was free, I called Kate out of reflex. I was trying not to flip out. Whatever bad blood Kate and I had between us, it was instantly gone. She said she'd be right over. She didn't have a car, she walked nearly a mile to my house to be with me. Even though our friendship would end 8 months later on a terrible note, everyone should know Kate was by my side the entire time. I don't care what evil things she might have done, and maybe she has had a hard life by some unfortunate choices. But she was there for me when I needed it most.
The paramedics had called the police, and then the neighbors all started to show up. Later, I found out some of them thought a murder took place, because my father was "that way." I swear, some neighbors just started walking in the doors like it was a museum, so the police started to cordon off the area like a crime scene. First, a policeman started to ask me questions. Then, the detectives started to ask me essentially the same questions, which was pissing me off. Then the Sergeant started asking me the same questions, and I recall he was very annoyed and called more police to keep people out of my house. There were several questions they asked over and over again:
- Were you aware you mother had several prescriptions to tranquilizers from several different doctors?
- Did you mother say anything or act differently when you last spoke with her?
- Is there a history of suicide in your family?
- Where is her husband?
Found by her body were two empty bottles of tranqs, 60 count in total, that were filled just a few days ago, according to the label. A glass was next to her with strong alcohol residue. I didn't want to face the truth, so I kept saying she was fine the night before, when I knew this wasn't true. The police knew it too, because I am a very poor liar.
In between interrogations, I felt I had to call relatives. The first was my maternal grandmother to tell her that she survived her only daughter. I recall her denial of "No no no this is a mean joke, this isn't true, you are lying!" She started to cry and hung up on me. I called her back, and she yelled at me for a while. First it was "you are making this up," and then a sort of acceptance that "she should have seen this coming," and then she fainted (or at least dropped the phone off the hook and wouldn't talk anymore - we spoke again later, so she was okay). Then I recall calling my Uncle Charles, whom I was officially "not allowed to know exists." I had to introduce myself, and he said, "Yeah, I know you you are! Wow, what are you, 18 now?" I had to tell him the bad news. I recall this exact phrase he said, "Oh wow. [off hook] Hey, Angie! [his wife] Guess who died! [back on hook] No kiddin'!" He said it like he was announcing some newly found discovery like I said I had won the Nobel Prize or something. Aunt Angela got on the phone, and was more appropriately subdued and sympathetic. Uncle Charles, if you are reading this, don't take this badly; everyone reacts to things their own way. I have never taken your comment as a personal snub on anyone, and I still smirk at remembering, "Hey Angie, guess who died?" That is so you :). What a weird way to be introduced to your aunt and uncle, though, at 18.
After making some of the most difficult calls of my life, the Sergeant sat me down and said, "We have been asking neighbors about your situation, and we have pulled some county records on you, and given your family situation, we're going to ask that you NOT be home when your father shows up. For your safety, is there a relative's house you can stay at?" I wanted to stay home, but the Sergeant was so insistent, that if I didn't find a place to stay, I'd have to spend it in jail. So I stayed at Kate's house. The Sergeant left his card to me, and I left a note on one of the more prominent the kitchen cabinets so he could see it when he got home. I don't recall what I wrote, but it was something like, "Please call me at this number, and call the Sergeant at this card."
I think later, at Kate's house, I finally started to cry for a while. Kate's Pekingese were very comforting, but I think Kate's family was totally wigged out about the whole thing. I didn't know what to do. I mourned less about my mother and more about my survival. Where would I go now? Would I get to finish high school? And part of me felt unfair that my mother committed suicide, when that was supposed to be me! That was MY method of control. Then I felt guilty that somehow my suicidal tendencies had "rubbed off" on her, and I was somehow responsible for her death. And I dreaded facing my father. Would he kill me? How would he kill me? I assumed he'd beat me to death, because he never used weapons or tools like a belt or anything. I was terrified, and going to to a free-falling fear spiral.
Then, Sunday night, Kate's father came down to Kate's room (she lived in a finished room in the basement), where we were watching TV in silence. "Grig's dad's on the phone. Grig, you don't have to talk to him if you don't want to, he doesn't sound like he's in a good mood." But I said I would because how long could I delay it? He'd only get madder. And it was his wife, after all. I picked up the old black rotary phone in the laundry room, right on top of the washer and dryer, next to 500 canned goods that Kate's parents collected like for a bomb shelter of something. This was roughly how the conversation went:
Arv: What the HELL is going on? Where's Glady?
Grig: Please sit down, I have some bad news...
Arv: Don't FUCK with me, where is Glady?
Grig: I am sorry to have to tell you this but she's dead.
Arv: Oh, bull SHIT, where are you? Did she put you up to this?
Grig: She'd dead. She took some tranquilizers and the police said...
Arv: WHERE ARE YOU TWO? PUT GLADY ON THE PHONE!
Grig: She's DEAD, okay? The card on the note is for a police Sergeant who handled the case. Call him and...
Arv: I. WANT. TO. SPEAK. TO. HER. RIGHT NOWWWWW!!!! Is this one of your goddamned therapist's ideas? Huh? You think you can do this? You will GO to JAIL, Greg-gry! Now PUT. HER. ON. THE. PHONE!!!!
Grig: I can't, she's dead. If you don't believe me, call Fairfax Hospital, she's in the Fairfax morgue awaiting your positive identification.
Arv: I will find you two, and when I do... oh, you are so useless!!!! [click]
Deep inside of me, there was a complete systems failure overload about to happen. I roughly recall going back to Kate's room, and then when I came to, her parents were over me, rousing me to wake up. I had apparently fainted, but I don't know how I ended up in Kate's bed. I told them what had happened. They said my father had called and was a lot calmer. They weren't sure if he finally believed me or it was a ruse. Apparently Kate had told them my father was so loud, she could hear him over the phone from her room, so they thought it best not to allow him to speak to me.
Continued in Part 3: ...the little crabs can eat her remains
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000278.html