Vacuum. Dust. Change the sheets. Sweep the floor. Clean the bathrooms. Dust the baseboards. Mop the floors. Wipe down the appliances. Laundry laundry laundry. Clean, dry, fold, put away. Plan the meals. Shop. Make the meals. Pack a lunch. Iron the shirts. Pay the bills. Sort the mail. File the papers. Wash the diapers. Box up the outgrown clothes. Fill the drawers with the ones that are still too big. Make the phone calls. Set up the appointments. Pick up the toys. Sewing projects. The dog needs a walk. Knitting projects. Thoughts of going back to work. Cleaning out closets. Plans to cull, give to Goodwill, get rid of those things I've saved that I don't want, don't need, never liked in the first place so why did I keep them? Keeping up the chatter.
Trying, so hard, to keep myself busy so I don't remember. So I don't think about it.
Ten years. The anniversary. Ten years since she died.
Even still, it comes back, familiar and strange. When you're busy, doing, making, being the responsible one. Trying to not let it in. But it's there. It comes.
The sounds. Ksh! Chip! The smell of cigarette smoke. The door to her room, still closed. The garbage sacks full of clanking cans, sour dripping, ashes.
The phone ringing and ringing and ringing.
No one wants to talk about it anymore. They turned out fine, they are responsible adults. She really was a great mom, considering. Too bad it happened that way, but now they've moved on. Look how happy they are now. See, it's OK.
But it's not.
I still need her. I still miss her every day of my life. And I still hate that she couldn't stop, wouldn't, until it was too late.
Ten years gone, and it's as raw as ever.