On a beautiful, sunny Friday in November, I was hurriedly collecting my things in my office. Although I had taken off that afternoon to go pack for my girls weekend, I decided I had enough time to chat with my coworkers in the conference room as they ate their lunch. As we laughed about the days events (or each other, I'm sure), I barely heard my name called over the loud speaker.
"Jennifer Davis, you have a call on line 1."
Somebody was paging me. Weird, that never happened.
I ran back into my office and picked up the receiver. "This is Jennifer."
The next 4 minutes of my life were a standstill. Honestly, they still are. It's as if someone took freeze frame photos of me and I'm looking at them through an eyeglass. Each second recorded in time.
I don't recall my words exactly, nor do I think I ever will. But the emotion is as raw as a brand new flesh wound. And it still is.
I felt wounded, immediately. I felt betrayed. I thought she was lying to me to be cruel. I felt guilt and shame.
And I couldn't move. I'm not exactly sure how long I stood there in my office, holding the phone, long after my brother's girlfriend hung up. I was angry that she phoned me - we didn't exactly see eye to eye on most things related to my mother. How dare she call me... especially with such important information. Where the hell was my brother?
Crumpled in a corner. Just as I was about to be.
The walk back to the conference room was long. I could barely edge the words out of my mouth. Somehow I was able to whisper though.
My mom died.
People flew into motion. Within seconds I was sitting, which was a good thing since my body had begun to betray me. My shoulders were shuddering and a wail was escaping that was unfamiliar. My stomach was lurching with every sob that released.
I'm not really sure how long I was in that room but I will always remember the arms around me, the shared tears, the friendship and empathy. These women I so casually called my coworkers had stepped up to a new role for me that day, although I didn't quite recognize it at the moment. They shared an experience with me, one that I would forever burn them into my memory as my strength in crisis.
I don't recall the drive. I had driven 25 miles to meet Tim at Bubba's school. I'm not sure how I made that drive that day but I had only one thought coursing through my mind. He had to know, right away. She wasn't just a grandma. She was his rock, his anchor.
When we arrived at his small, private high school and entered the door my throat closed. I couldn't speak the words. The school counselor placed us in the library and went to get Bubba.
But I didn't have to speak. My face said the words for me. As he entered the room, he looked into my eyes and muttered "no, mom...". I shook my head, my throat almost completely closed at this point. He lowered his head and walked slowly into my arms, both of us enveloped by hubs loving embrace.
It's been 8 years now since I lost my mother. At times when life is swirling around me quickly, I realize I haven't thought about her in a couple of days. Guilt strikes still. I spent a great deal of time with my mother during her illness the year before she passed but she had recovered, rebounded. I thought we were in the clear. I had become somewhat complacent that fall, feeling we had a lot of time left.
Today, I remember this moment in time as if it was yesterday. The emotions are as raw as they were then. The feeling in my stomach is there, my throat is dry as if I could erupt at any moment.
I miss my mother. I miss my best friend. I'm not sure that will ever subside.
I share this with you as a simple reminder. Although cliche, life is short. Say the things you want to say, do the things you want to do and always, always let those in your life know exactly how you feel. Because you never know when your phone may ring.
You are missed, momma. Thank you for loving me 32 years of my life so unconditionally. I will never, ever forget.