Phone Rings (cause the dream sequence is so played out).
Me: FOR THE LAST TIME, I DON’T WANT TO SAVE ANY MONEY ON MY ENERGY BILL. I WANT TO PAY MORE. PUT THAT ON MY PROFILE!
Mom: Jesus. Stephen. Are you ok?
Me: What? Who is this?
Mom: Your mother.
Me: Prove it.
Mom: Remember when you spent the night at Peter Hanson’s house, and got scared and climbed into bed with his parents? I think they made popcorn and watched tv with you while I got dressed and came to pick you up, in the middle of the night? Ring a bell?
Me: Really? That’s your go-to identifying memory? Sounds more like Michael. I remember being super brave. I’m not convinced.
Mom: Remember how I said I was going to come back as a wren and sing to you when I died?
Me: TOO much! Big time overcompensation. OK. It’s you. IT’S YOU!!!! WAIT, I almost forgot – it’s your death day! Oh man. Happy Death Day mom! What are you, six now? Wow! Seems like just yesterday was the worst day ever. Life goes on I see. It’s really good to hear from you. I miss you.
Mom: I know. How are you? How was Christmas?
Me: Good… I. Uh, I had I very nice time with family.
Mom: Why do you sound so funny.
Me: Me? What do you mean? I sound normal. You sound normal, for a ghost and all. This is all normal.
Me: Dad has a girlfriend.
Me: I know – it’s fucking weird, right? I mean, he’s completely helpless. Almost died a couple time last year. I guess, if someone is willing to keep him alive, that’s a good thing, right?
Mom: It’s OK.
Me: It is?
Mom: You think I don’t have some boyfriends up here?
Mom: It’s called “Heaven.” Not, “Be lonely all the time waiting for the living to die place in the sky.”
Me: I should have gone to church more. I guess I don’t really know what’s going on up there, do I?
Mom: What what do you think is going on?
Me: I don’t really believe in any of it.
Mom: It’s a confusing thought.
Me: Wait – so you’re up there with boyfriends?
Mom: Why wouldn’t I be? It’s not as if I still look like a cancer patient breathing her last bald breath.
Mom: No way! I was babe. And when I got here- POOF! Back to babe mode!
Me: I’m happy you’re a babe, and have lots of boyfriends. Maybe, let’s move on.
Mom: Point I’m making is – this place is weird. You get to be lots of things all at once. I’m both a mom and Woodstock hippy all in the same breath. I’m married to your father, and dating Stu… <interrupted>
Me: OK. I GET IT. I get it. Sounds like fun.
Me: But, I don’t really believe in Heaven? So now what?
Mom: You don’t really need to. Life, and death, are what you make of it. I’m around. A heavenly spirit. A ghost in the ether. Living in your walls. Watching you.
Me: You’re so creepy.
Mom <signature cackle> It’s NEW YEARS! I’ve been drinking champagne! Cheers!
For real though. I wish you were around.
Mom: You’re typing dialogue, in my voice, wishing I was talking to you, and you’re wishing I was around? Hey smarty-pants. Guess what — I am around!
Mom: Think about it — when you look at a photo, do you hear me?
Me: Yeah. I replay our conversations. I hear your voice. I love it. It’s all I have. When you were about to die, I got all messed up in my head and deleted all of your voicemails. I don’t know why. I just did.
Mom: And yet, here we are. And I sound like me. And you hear my voice.
Mom: You see the sunset tonight?
Me: It was the most spectacular of the year. Layered clouds. All the colors, and more. I thought of you. I do with every sunset.
Mom: See. I’m right here.
Me: I know. It’s not quite the same though.
Mom: Buck up. Everyone dies. Tell me more. What else has happened since the last time we talked (on my birthday – 6 months ago. You might consider trying a little harder, Mr. “Big Avocado.”)
Me: Billy and Mark got married! It was beautiful. Everyone wished you could have been there (alive).
Mom: That makes me so happy! I love them both.
Me: Yeah, and after the party, Michael dropped dad off at the wrong address in South Philly. And dad, who was suffering from Pneumonia (but didn’t know it) was lost for over an hour, and then went home, and almost died. Michael felt so bad. It was pretty funny. He laughs about it a lot now. High point of the year. If you ever talk to him, ask him about it.
Mom: I did. He felt awful. It wasn’t his fault. You’re an asshole. His words, not mine.
Me: Can’t get anything by you.
Mom: Tell me more.
Me: Let’s see. Kids are good. I usually like them. Sometimes, anyway. Marie is Marie (wonderful, duh) and I’m a little older.
Mom: That’s the way life works.
Me: So we have these conversations sporadically – tell me something profound/ life altering.
Mom: In 200 years, no one will remember you.
Me: Damn. That was unexpected.
Mom: You get to do it once. Make good friends. Do good things. Laugh a lot. And when it’s gone, it’s gone. So teach Lucy how to use WordPress, and give her enough memories to keep you alive.
Me: There she is.
Me: Oh, before you go. I don’t know why I feel compelled to share this with you, but,you used to have a box of cards for any occasion. And my favorite one was of this teenage girl talking to another teenager. She says: “Where’s the party at?” Her friend says, “Don’t end a sentence in a preposition.” The other girl says, “Where’s the party at, bitch?”
Just wanted you to know – I never end my sentences in prepositions. And I love you.
Mom: I love you too. Bitch.
Happy New Year, one and all. And a special shout out to the dead parents club. Membership sucks – but misery loves company.
The Big Avocado