There’s a box. It’s roughly 5x7, and blue. She’s in it. The woman you kissed on the forehead a month ago. The woman whose hand you held. The woman who didn’t stop holding your hand when your brother died. Or when your father died. The woman who held your hand while walking you to your first day of school. She’s in the blue box on the shelf of your bedroom. You look at it every day while getting dressed, while brushing your teeth, while returning emails and talking to friends. You stare at it in disbelief. Deep down, it still feels like a dream. An awful, awful dream. You will wake up and she will still be here, on the other end of the line, fussing at you about eating more, or eating less, or being nice to her grandbaby. She will be here to tell you to be patient with your grieving husband, even if he isn’t being patient with you. She will ask you to come over to fix her tv because there’s something wrong with her cable.
In a few hours her grandbaby will return from Phoenix, and he will ask to see grandma. Do you point at the box? Do you tell him she’s on a long trip? Do you hold him close and tell him that she’s up there, somewhere? You are not a woman of faith. You’re not sure you believe in an afterlife. You’re not sure if you believe in this life. Getting out of bed every day is a grand achievement. So what do you tell your four year-old? How will you explain your spontaneous crying, or the grief that grips you so hard that you can’t breathe?
You don’t know. All you know is that you’ve been numb for weeks. And when you haven’t been numb, you’ve been angry. At everything. At everyone. And you’re closed. So very closed. You are your last refuge. No more mom to hold your hand.