WEDNESDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER 2015 —
Today I snuck over to the The Senate and grabbed lunch by my lonesome. There is nothing new about eating by myself. It just seemed weird to sit at a table by myself when I normally sit at the bar and eat while I check my iPhone, email and sneak a Crown & Coke in, but today was different. There were at least five individuals sitting at the bar and I didn’t want to be bothered whatsoever. I did not want any small talk. I wanted a moment to breathe in the day and look around and ponder. Chris had been gone all day making funeral arrangements with his brother, sister and aunts. Last night was a sad, melancholy evening when Chris got a phone call at 9:30. His little sister was weeping and screaming into the phone, “My mom died! My mom died!” It was terrifying to hear. She wasn’t even on speaker! It was incredibly sad to hear the sadness in her voice. The disbelief coming from her that after a week of being unable to speak or move one side of her body that her mom had passed away. I don’t know if Chris’ sister was in the room or not, but I could not bare to deal with that scenario. It would tear me in half.
Chris said, “I’ll be there in a few minutes,” and set the phone on the carpet where we were relaxing watching TV in the living room. I shut the TV off and held his head in my lap. I looked at his face and saw him staring at the clock on the microwave in the kitchen. I could not fathom what emotions were going through his head or what he felt after putting the phone down.
“Take a breath, bubby,” I said as I rubbed his head.
He kept looking at the clock.
“Breathe, my bubs.”
He was breathing. A few minutes went by and he walked into the bedroom to get some shoes and pants. His cousin came to get him and take him to his aunt’s house where his mom had passed. I felt cold and I couldn’t find words. What do you say to someone that just saw their mom deteriorate in the matter of a week?
You don’t say anything.
I sat at lunch today and looked at my salad and my drink. This scene played in my head over and over. I thought about the event this weekend I’m participating in. Dancing with the Pueblo Starz has been one of my favorite events all five years that its been around and I have a room to entertain on Saturday night. I left lunch and went back next door to my salon and started picking things up a bit. I started planning the logistics in my head: Most people have funeral services within three days of passing. I figured Friday or Saturday would be the funeral service. I also thought to myself that the show must go on because I know Starz is an evening event on Saturday night. It’s hard sometimes to be as busy as my life has allowed me to become because when a family crisis arrives you’re still expected to perform, attend and kiss ass. If you cancel, they still cash the check. I HAVE TO GO! I also thought of Chris and what he must be thinking of. I text him a few times and didn’t receive a response. “He must be busy,” I thought. I looked at my books and closed them off for Friday after 1pm and all day Saturday. I have to be with my partner at this time.
Chris walked back into the salon and started talking about the plans he and his aunts had discussed at the funeral home. As he spoke, I saw a program sitting on my red desk that said “Sunrise/Sunset” and had Priscilla’s (Chris’ mom) pictures on the cover. “You look like your mom, bubs.”
I opened the program and read a poem that had the same rhythm that Chris has when he writes poetry. He was reading to me a hand-written note he had been working on this afternoon in the salon while he waited for his nina (godmother) to come get him. As he read the last sentence outloud, I was following along with my eyes. I thought I was seeing things.
“Oh! You wrote that this morning! Is this what you were working on, baby?”
He shook his head.
I re-read the program while Chris stepped outside to take a phone call. I couldn’t help but notice that even in a crisis like a parent’s death that Chris has held it together and has contributed to the service that may be the last memory of Priscilla for so many on Friday night and Saturday morning. My mind went back to stroking his face as he stared at the clock on the microwave last night. This man standing outside my salon smoking a cigarette and talking on the phone is mine to take care of. Whether he stares at the clock, cries, writes or whatever. He needs me.
He came back in the salon and we sat in the shampoo area talking. I stared at a book looking at pictures and flipping pages. He said, “You can keep looking at your book, bubs.”
I shut the book and started talking to him about his mom. Yeah, they didn’t get along always. Yeah, they fought pretty hard this past year. Yes, they reconnected. Yes, he has been there in the hour of need. Yes, he wrote her poem. Yes, he has hurt and missed her even before she passed this whole last week in his stories and in his tears, but he has never shown that to anyone this whole week. He’s been a really strong man. 21 doesn’t look like 21 on Chris. I can’t imagine losing my mom at 21 or even as a teenager like his sister. I would have been staring at the clock too.
Even while typing this, I think of the period he must have been writing at the last sentence of his mom’s life: 9:30 pm. 9:30 pm. 9:30 pm. A poem is a much sweeter way to remember her than the phone call he received or the residual shock he must still be feeling after staring at the clock.
I normally write my blogs at 9:00 pm and last night I did not. I had a feeling he was going to need me. I’m glad I didn’t start getting creative because 9:30pm was the moment I looked at my baby’s face and knew all the love in the world he knew in the form of a mother had passed and that sense of family was tarnished just a tad. As I held his head in my lap last night, I instantly adopted Chris fully into my genes and into my family. I don’t know if 9:30 will ever look the same again.