I haven’t gotten over it. I don’t think I ever will. That night, at her condo in Chicago, in the days and hours before life left, she would open her eyes from time to time and knowingly smile. Sometimes her hands fluttered, like a bird’s wings. As the time drew nearer, she lay motionless, unaware.
Then, early one morning, she breathed her last. My sisters and I hugged each other and cried. We made the call, and polite, strong young men quickly came to take her away from us. They made us leave the room as they did whatever they did. I rode down in the elevator with the men, who rolled my mother on a cart, put her in a black van, and drove away.
I told myself it was all right. I was prepared. She had lived a good, long life I told myself. God is good, all the time, yes. No more suffering. Surely, this great lady already was in heaven, playing her favorite piano gospel songs for a chorus of angels. Surely, surely.
But as time passed, I find myself still grappling with the fact that she is gone. You only have one mother, you know. It seems unreal. I still have the impulse to reach for the phone and call her. I still think of her as being there. And I think of her voice, her laughter, and the fact that, though I’m a senior citizen, she still treated me like I was 12. “Boy, you look thin. Are you eating enough?”
And I think of her homegoing “celebration.” There is some anger there. Why do people call funerals a celebration? Is it a celebration of a life well lived? Is it to celebrate an end to human suffering? Is it family and friends’ expression of joy that a loved one is now in a “better place?” Well, as they say, “everybody talks about heaven, but no one seems to want to go.” And “everybody who talks about heaven ain’t going there.”