Ever since I was a child, I’ve been both terrified and fascinated by the specter of death. I became obsessed with death after spending the summer with my grandmother in 1980. She had moved to Wichita, Kansas to reside with her daughter, Aunt Annabel, and we spent hot summer days together with her telling me tales from her youth.
She was a Southern Baptist and believed that the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ was going to happen in the year 2000. So I analyzed the situation, well as much as a nine year old girl can analyze and decided that it would be cool for everyone to die together at one time. Although I would only be 30 at the time, at least I would die in the company of my family and friends. The thoughts that children have.
In the years that have passed, I’ve learned a lot about death unfortunately. I’ve lost so many friends and family in the past five years that it’s surreal. Especially the deaths of my original family, the family I was born into. My brother Randy died in 1994, my mother Gertrude in 2006, and Larry in 2020. My father wasn’t a part of my life so it was just myself, my brothers, and my mother. Now it’s just me and it’s been one of the most difficult journeys I’ve taken. Although I have children, a grandson and a new grandchild due in the spring, and a ton of cousins and friends who love me, I still feel so alone at times. I’ve come to the realization that this feeling of loneliness and despair will never go away but it will always be a lingering bitterness.
Now I’m obsessed with dying these days. Worried about leaving my children motherless. Worried about what would happen to them if I should die. Wondering who’s going to love my babies like I do. My mother had three children and I’m the only one who is left. What kind of shit is that? Why am I still here? And how does it feel to be dead. Is there really an afterlife and a place where souls go when their journey on Earth is over? Will I see my dead loved ones again? Totally morbid as fuck and unhealthy but it is what it is.
In the days leading up to the anniversary of my mother’s death, I am usually filled with melancholy and dark dreary thoughts. But this year, I can smile a little bit because my mother reached out from beyond and assisted me with a problem I have been dealing with for several weeks.
I am currently enrolled in Welfare to Work, a program in which welfare recipients have to work for their monthly check and it has been frustrating to say the very least and I actually walked off from the job back in November. I knew the consequences of my actions but like the rebellious teen I used to be and who is still buried somewhere in my psyche, I said to myself, “Fuck it! I deal with that hand when it comes to me.”
So I have been waiting on pins and needles for the shit to hit the fan.I know it was stupid as hell to walk off from the only income I was receiving but damn, I do have my dignity if I don’t have anything else. I imagined my meager benefits being sliced to less than nothing and begging Peter to pay Paul and all the apostles to put some money down on the large stack of bills that is constantly accumulating and squeeze out some more Christmas presents. My son, who is nineteen understands my financial situation and was not expecting too much but my little one is just a little girl of ten and although she said understood too, I knew that she did not and how could I break her heart? Christmas has turned totally materialistic but I get a kick out of seeing the joy on her face on Christmas morning, tearing into her presents, gleefully and greedily, remembering the child I used to be.
I had almost resigned myself to not receiving a check for the month of December when I received a call from my case manager from the program. She scolded me gently about walking off when I had no income and instead of tearing into my ass like a lot of case workers would have done, she told me to go back to the job site and to come see her when I got off work. When I jokingly asked her would I receive a check for this month, she replied “Would I do you like that and Christmas is coming?”
I almost broke down and cried over the phone but I held it together. However, when I got off, I cried like a baby and remembered that tomorrow was the anniversary of my mother’s death. Although my momma was not with me physically, she was still making shit happen for her little girl. I am not the most religious person and at times have wondered about the existence of God, the Devil and all religious dogma but I do know that I received a Christmas miracle from beyond the grave. Some of the more cynical and jaded might look at my story as mere coincidence but a mother’s love for her children can break all earthly boundaries and I know that my mother reached out for me. I love you Ma.