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Mom’ dies, and it is time to pretend as if it didn’t happen

“Are you speeding?” I asked the police officer in the front seat. I looked out the window from the back seat and noticed that we were flying by the other traffic on the freeway. I never speed. It felt dangerous. “Of course,” he answered. “That’s why I never write speeding tickets.” It would be hypocritical, he says. Well that’s nice.

“So do you have a badge or something?” Of course he does. What a stupid question. He unbuckles his seatbelt to access his back pocket and pulls out a black leather wallet. He hands it to me in the back seat. I open the worn out black wallet and there it is. Right in the middle between his IDs and credit cards. It’s what you might imagine it to be like. A chunk of metal with some kind of gold coating.

I hadn’t been arrested. The police officer was my ex-boyfriend from high school, and I was sitting in the back seat because his aunt was sitting in the front passenger seat. We were on his way to visit his father in North Las Vegas because his mother just died.

“Mom” never woke up from the coma. It rained the whole week she died. It rained the day after.

She died at night. The morning after it happened, before I heard the news, I woke up with my current boyfriend. “You should go see her,” he told me. I decided I would go straight from his house to the hospital and finally go visit her. I checked my e-mail before I left. In my inbox, there was a message from the ex’s wife telling me I was too late.

I sat on the freshly made bed and cried.

When my ex, his aunt, and I arrived at his parents’ house we were greeted by his grieving father. I sat on the white couch with big cinnamon-bun armrests and looked around. In the living room, everything was just as Mom left it. It even smelled the same. The faint odor of cigarettes and clean laundry. Everything was still in its place. Over the fireplace Mom kept a collection of glass swans, ceramic horses and a brass wiener dog, among many other tchotkes that were beginning to collect dust. The place is full of pictures, too. She still displayed pictures of me with her other family photos. An 8-by-10 framed picture of just me sat prominently next to pictures of all her relatives. She really made me feel like I was hers and that I belonged there, wedged between Gran and the uncles.

I had dinner with the family before going home. It began awkwardly, I suppose. I haven’t seen him in years. My ex, the police officer, married the girl that he began dating after we broke up, back when we were teenagers. He has two beautiful kids with her, a 1- and 3-year-old. Our paths diverged and he became a family man. I became a tumbleweed. Long gone are his days of long hair and tattered band T-shirts.

My weekend consisted of crying myself to sleep. I can’t afford to take the time off but it certainly would have been a waste of time to attempt to work while I was in that mood. I don’t want to talk about it. I’ve told my boyfriend about the death but none of my friends know. It is so much easier to move along when you just pretend it didn’t happen.

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