I was standing in the backyard staring at a pile of things — my mother was unable to part with anything that might eventually be of some use — thinking to myself how these things and the arrangement of them reminded me of her. Then I was thinking about how that would all change. How we’d clean up and get rid of things, and already so much has changed inside — aunts and uncles cleaning and meaning well, but I can’t stand the thought of them touching everything before I’ve had a chance to touch it and photograph it because I want to see everything exactly how she left it. And I know it probably doesn’t mean much, but it feels really important to me because it’s just one more way to try to recreate her. And the thought that eventually this would cease to be her house or to look like her house makes me so sad.

I’ve been writing in my journal a lot. Sometimes I think I’m ok. Last night was hard. This morning was really hard, this afternoon while I was making funeral arrangements, I kept it together pretty well. My uncle and father would break into sobs and I still managed to keep it together. The coroner’s office had a computer meltdown and they lost case notes for my mom’s case. So the mortuary, after getting the signed release from my dad, picked her up from the Orange County coroner’s office, then had to drop her back off. The deputy at the coroner’s office said that because the case notes were lost, and they didn’t have the official word of the public administrator regarding who had rights to the body (my father, or me and my sister), that they couldn’t release the body. I can’t tell you how frustrating that is — the extra day delays I’ve faced in the last two days. How frustrating it was to get a plot — the wheeling and dealing and the multiple trips to the mortuary and the waiting, ever waiting. And now this. Did you know you could purchase a very nice car for the cost of burying a dead loved one? Even somewhat modestly, which is how my mother would have liked it?

I’ve been wanting to see my mother for days. And I still really want to see her, but now that we get closer to it actually happening, I both dread and look forward to it. I need to see her, but I’m scared of what I’ll see. My father’s worried about it, too. He asked me, are you sure you want to see her? And of course I do. But he’s seen things as a trauma surgeon that’ll steel him for what she’ll look like that I’ve never seen. Sometimes victims of these kinds of accidents have no skin left on their faces, or their faces are pock marked by broken windshields. Dad said from the image of the car on the news coverage, with the windshield broken, and the mangled door… The coroner’s office said we wouldn’t be able to have an open casket, and that my mom had suffered serious head injuries. But how can I not look? Even if it’s more horrific than I can possibly imagine, how could I not take one last look at her? If nothing else, then just to make absolute sure it’s really her. I want to touch her and kiss her and hold her hand, even for just a second. Just a minute or two, please. How could I not?

I write because it clears my head. Makes me feel a little better, even as I’m sobbing. I’ve been trying so hard to preserve her in the things she’s left behind. But I know it’ll all change. That everything’ll change. But I don’t want it to.


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