Last night I felt the weight of losing my mom more than I thought was possible at this point.
My mom and I didn't always talk at regular times. She'd call me every Saturday morning super early, forgetting the time difference, and I'd let it go to voicemail and call her back sometime within the next couple of days. We'd call each other when something happened or we just needed to talk. But we never had a standing phone call.
We did, however, start our own tradition of always talking before and after flights. When I started flying pretty regularly in 2006, Mom would always worry a bit. So I called her on the way to the airport, and I always ALWAYS called her when I touched down back at SFO. The cab drive back into the city was OUR time. It was a reminder that coming home to SFO was also coming HOME. Sometimes it felt maybe a bit annoying that I needed to report in, but mostly I cherished that time with my mom.
When I was flying to Malaysia or Thailand or China every other week, we spent hours on the phone before and after my flights. Even when I was dead exhausted, that call home was my top priority. I loved sharing my adventures with Mom and hearing about her life that I'd missed while I was way.
When I flew home from the Funeral at the end of February, I cried as I landed because there was nobody to call. It hit me hard and I spent the next week wallowing in bed (and sick as a dog from some airplane bug).
I haven't flown since then. Until last week.
I recognized the temptation to call Mom on the way to OAK to head out on this trip. But I also was aware enough to realize I couldn't. I let myself feel sad for a moment, and then I moved on.
Last night was different. Last night I was exhausted. It had been a long flight in with tons of turbulence and a 30 minute delay on the tarmac. I was tired and fuzzy and not really thinking. As soon as I got into the cab to take me home, I picked up the phone and hit speed dial on my mom's number.
As it rang I realized my mistake, but I couldn't hang up. I needed to hear that out of service message on the other end. I needed to hear the finality of it. And then I lost my shit.
After all these months, my first instinct upon returning to SFO is still to call Mom. To tell her I'm okay. To find out how she is. To tell her I love her.
It's heartbreaking. It's gut wrenching and it has thrown off my whole day today. I'm not very good at functioning while trying not to cry all over my computer.
But I hope that impulse NEVER goes away.