Sitting in my freezer is a rack of tragedy ribs.
My mother knew my partner and I liked barbecue. Whenever she got the chance and she knew we were coming, she’d have a slab of Texas-style ribs waiting in the fridge that we’d take home and freeze. Considering ribs were just about the only thing we weren’t equipped to make ourselves, and the expense of the meat, and the time and effort they took to make properly, it was a thoughtful and ambitious gesture–the very kind she excelled at.
Her condition fluctuated beyond the doctors’ ability to predict, never mind ours, but some time ago she went through one of her rare and merciful upswells. For a week or two she was well enough to get up, stretch her legs, and–apparently–cook one more Texas-style rack. We ate them as a family, and when we were finished, and I had to go back home, I took the lion’s share home in a Ziploc. We went through them fast, but a few lingered, and a few times late into the night I thought to myself I really needed to eat the damn things fast. I didn’t want to eat my dead mother’s barbecue.
Two months after I found out she wasn’t going to get better, she passed away. That was a week ago.
I don’t hang all the grief and tragic absurdity of losing my mother on a sack of pig parts. I can throw them out, serve them to a friend, choke them down myself if I can work up the nerve. And I can get that haircut–the one she told me to get, the one she probably would’ve had a comment about. I can take care of my appointments she suggested. I can file those taxes we planned. I can have a wedding. But it’s going to be a long time yet before I run out of things I was supposed to do while she was still around.
I’m certainly not the only person who feels this way. Plenty of people were looking forward to spending plenty of time with her. For all of us, it’s going to be long months before the fog of mourning melts from our new and measurably worse Normal.
She was considerate, compassionate, patient, and good-natured in everything she did. I’m happy to have known her. To have been her son was more than anyone could ask.
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