Cleaning

When Jess and I were finally alone last night, we went into mad cleaning mode. And I went to bed late, but got up early and went back into mad cleaning mode. It’s gratifying to have something mindless to do that results in immediate visual impact. I washed a giant sliding glass door inside and out and it looks spectacular.

We went back to see my mom today. This time we got to see her whole entire face and head. The mortician worked on her for over five hours — we even delayed the visit by half an hour and it was almost another half hour before we got to her after arriving at the funeral home. He spent that time placing many sutures to pull the skin back together, carefully stuffing cotton in places to make her face look normal, washing her hair, embalming her. She doesn’t quite look like herself, but it was a relief to see all of her head. She has a big jagged cut down the right side of her forehead from the scalp down to her eye. The left side of her forehead and cheek were abraded — sort of like road rash. Her right eye doesn’t look quite right — the skin under the eye is puckered and red — probably from broken bones in her head and face — and had signs of minor trauma. Daddy said he didn’t feel any other broken bones anywhere else though and repeated that death was probably immediate. Her hair was beautiful and dark and still wet from the washing. They put this stuff in her scalp to retain moisture that looks like small, clear rocks and that was weird to see in her hair, but it was still pretty. Her skin was so soft and she wasn’t as cold and rigid as she was yesterday — though today, without the crinkly plastic, it was easier to touch her arms and feet and hold her in this way through the sheet and blanket.

She had three pieces of cotton on her face that the mortician said we could remove if we wanted to. And these had cream underneath them (as he said they would — he was very thorough in describing what we’d see and what he’d done to her). When my dad lifted the first piece, I cringed, feeling uncomfortable, but later on, I was lifting them, too, and examining the damage underneath them. It’s impressive how easy it is to get used to something. The first look is always the freshest, the most visceral, and usually the hardest. But it doesn’t take long standing in the room to just get comfortable with it. The cotton for example, or the blood my sister wiped off her face. The first time is the hardest, the most shocking, then subsequent times it doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

We got her clothes, too — the ones she was wearing when she died. J.C. brought out one single shoe that he wiped the blood off of — the only thing he thought fit to look at, but after we asked, he brought us a bag of her soiled (everything else) things with strict warnings about biologically hazardous waste, pathogens, etc.

I’m exhausted. A good friend of my sister’s arrived early today, then Frank arrived mid-afternoon. My aunt and uncle are sleeping downstairs. I have my mother’s bed all to myself. We picked out a bible verse to put on her memorial cards. I still miss her like crazy.

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