Empty House Empty Hearts
It rained for seven days after my mother died. The only day it didn't, we had her funeral. It was bright, sunny and you could feel a familiar warmth hug around everyone's shoulders that morning. The air was full of that midwest smog that tends to linger after a hard summer rain. After the pastor put the final flower on my mother's casket, big storm clouds began to roll in. I'd like to think she kept us dry that morning. You know, so we didn't mess up our hair. Hair was always very important to my mother.
After my step father passed away, I took mom on tour with me and half of her bags were full of volumizers, curling irons, teasers, brushes, combs, and one large hair dryers complete with all kinds of wacky attachments. One of them looked like a silencer from an old 007 flick. In the rare occasion you have to dry your hair, at the library.Her suitcase would barely zip all the way shut. Jolly ranchers, king size snickerz bars and homemade apple pies (Yes, plural) would be bursting out of those bags. I honestly think she only brought one change of clothes with us. Saving room for the sweet tea I suppose.
"Ma, we're going to Toledo... It's like two hours away. If we get THIS desperate and hungry, I'll drive us home." I said with a chuckle.
I loved having her on tour with me. I liked doing new material for her. I liked slipping in lines in my set that night that we used while joking around in private earlier that day. Inside jokes for just her and I. We had a special relationship. One that most children don't get to experience with their parents.
After she passed, I went back to Ohio to clean out her house before it was sold. I remember standing out on the back porch. The sun was shining. Not only shining, but like a picture perfect afternoon. The kind of sunny day you see on breakfast food commercials. I stood thinking, "Look how perfect it is" Not one blade of grass is out of place. Hell, I can hear the laughter of children from a few houses down. The world does not care that mother just died. It hasn't missed a step. Why doesn't the world know how hurt I am? Why isn't the world hurting like me? I felt so alone. So very, very small and so very, very alone.
"Okay Mom, I need a sign. I need something that tells me that you're okay. I need to know you can hear me. I need to still be able to communicate! Send me a sign!" I shouted out at the perfectly painted sky. Then I impatiently waited for a few minutes. Pacing back and forth.
"Show me something! Anything! I need this mom!" I continued shout.
I needed to know we were still connected. I needed to know that I wasn't alone. I waited a few more moments before turning to go inside. I had given up. I had to face it, the ugly truth;
I have been left behind. After thirty two years on this earth, I was orphan.
I grabbed for the door handle.. then I heard the roar of thunder roll in. A down pour of rain came in from the fields. It rained hard and it rained fast. I cried.. cause, well.. I thought that was her crying, and I never saw my mother cry. It scared me. It reassured me. Then it was gone. The sun came back out and if you were three miles south you would have never known it rained that day. I stood on that empty porch for a few moments, grinning from ear to ear.
That's all I needed.
After I finished packing up the house, my grandmother came over to say goodbye to the place. We both had no intensions of ever stepping foot in that house again. Still to this day when I think of that house, everything is just how my mom left it. Nothing has been moved and there is plenty of apple pie and sweet tea for taking.
My grandmother and I stood in the empty kitchen doorway looking into the now barren house. Crazy to think, not too long ago this place was full of laughter, life and love...and now, nothing. Just silence. We stood there for a few moments before my Grandmother spoke up.