three. new year's eve & my birthday, january 2015

my mom was jealous of my in-laws. whenever I talked about doing something with my mother-in-law she'd get this tight-lipped look, and a perceptible amount of frost would cake her words. I chose to edit my stories or omit portions of my life when speaking to her, something that now haunts me as she and I used to be able to share anything and everything.

my husband and I lived with my parents while our house was being built ten years ago. I was pregnant with our first son. our house was supposed to take about two months. we didn't move in for over seven. during that time, my mom discovered that my husband isn't very talkative. she took this personally. my husband discovered my parents liked to ask him about his day and help however they could. I don't know what his problem with this is. the divide between them grew and grew.

I became more and more silent, because I wanted them all to get along, and that meant I needed to shed the brightest light on everyone I could. so when I was mad at my husband, I couldn't complain to my mom, and when my parents drove me bonkers, I couldn't tell my husband.

this is a very roundabout way to bring you to new year's eve.

my mother-in-law invited us to a wedding in green bay for her side of the family, a niece or nephew. my husband is one of five kids, and i'm an only child. I've always considered my cousins to be like siblings, and we get together for birthdays, weddings, Christmas, thanksgiving, mother's day, easter, and my grandma's birthday. my husband isn't close with any of his family, never calls them or talks to them, and balks at having to drive to green bay any more than necessary since he drives farther north than that on a daily basis for work. and yet we were going to spend a major holiday with them. I probably made it sound like a chore when I told my mom so she wouldn't think i wanted to go, so she would feel bad instead of jealous. I can't remember, but I think she took news of our plans well. after we ate dinner and clinked glasses and stood aside the dance floor watching the wedding party dance, we went back to the hotel to sit in bed and fall asleep before midnight approached. before turning out the light I called my parents to wish them a happy new year.

yup.  woo hoo. 2015.

a few days later it was my birthday.

weeks prior my mom had had a breakdown in my school hallway. she'd been volunteering in my classroom since September, reading with students every Monday. after i'd walked the students to lunch that day, I walked back as I always did to find my her still sitting on the chair by the table in the hallway where we'd talk a little before she'd make her way to the office to purchase SCRIP and be on her way for the afternoon. that day, she'd asked about my birthday plans. I never cared to celebrate, but it was a big deal for her. she usually wanted to cook me dinner, but this year i'd decided to go to Nakashima's where we sit around a large grill and the chef cooks our food in front of us. my kids call it "the fire restaurant" because the chef builds a volcano out of onions, fills it with oil, and sets it on fire until our faces burn for a few seconds. I think my mother-in-law asked about my birthday before that and i'd invited her along, because isn't that the polite thing to do? anyways, on this particular day in my school hallway, my mom started crying about it. she wanted to have me to herself and we never invite her and Dad to my husband's birthday dinners so why did I feel the need to invite my mother-in-law? "okay, Mom", i'd said. "she doesn't need to come. it'll just be us."

crisis averted.

at our Christmas morning brunch that I wrote about yesterday Mom spent words telling me she was really sorry about crying at school, and I told her to please not worry about it. and I really didn't want her to worry or feel bad, but I was also really exhausted by the whole thing.

fast forward.

the day before my birthday, Saturday January 3rd,  I wasn't feeling the best. my kids had been under the weather off and on that week and we'd holed up most of Christmas break, except when we took them to a waterpark for a few days with friends. (we made time for that, but I didn't make time to go over and visit with my parents at all the whole ten days I was off of school.)   so, there I was, unwell, in my classroom without heat on a Saturday, trying to rearrange the entire set up of the room and desk arrangement for my 25 students before school started Monday. I think it was all the heavy lifting and pushing and shoving and heaving that really pushed me into flu-ish territory, but even with a headache and chills I decided that that night would be the night to go to dinner, and afterward I wanted to see the third Hunger Games movie that had been out since November. My husband and I had never had time to see it and I was afraid it wouldn't be in theaters much longer.. so I was on the phone with my mom most of the time I was in my classroom, because I always talked to her several times per day, especially when I was in the school alone or driving from place to place or folding laundry, and asked what she thought. she said she'd talk my dad into babysitting at our place after dinner.

done deal.

during dinner, my mom sat at the head of the table and I sat to her right. she gave me my gift before the chef showed up, and all during dinner my head throbbed and my son had coughing fit after coughing fit.


my parents followed us to our house where we cut a packer cake and ate super fast so my husband and i would make the movie.  halfway through the movie I considered going home because my head hurt so bad I wanted to burst into tears. we made it through, but as soon as I got home I barely said goodbye to my parents before I crashed into my bed where I stayed throughout my birthday, all feverish and achy, the next day.

the roads had been icy after the movie so I made my mom promise to call when they got home. of course, I didn't feel well so I didn't get up to answer it.

that is one of the last messages I have saved on my phone from her. it's not one of the ones she said she loved me at the end of.

one that she does end her message with "i love you" is from later in january, and that's the one I played over and over and over the first few months after she died.

I don't like to cry or acknowledge she's gone,

so I don't listen to it much anymore.

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