Things that I might forget on the first flight after my mother’s death

by Katherine Delaney

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Katherine Delaney is a Sydney writer

That the captain was a woman with the first name of Rowena.

That the mother behind me exhorting up, up, up in a high voice to her young child sounded like she was trying to re-assure herself.

That I comforted myself by knowing that the fact that I was wearing her underpants and slip meant I had something on my body that she had worn, while also simultaneously wondering whether the underpants part was not slightly gross.

That I comforted myself by reminding myself that the fabric of the dress I was wearing had been chosen by her for her.

That I was in Seat 27C but moved across the aisle because there were three empty seats in a row.

That doing the crossword was painful with every aficionado crossword clue now not able to be answered by her.

That the woman directly in front of me in my original seat had respected my request not to squash my bag of mum’s hats by putting her box of wine in the luggage compartment across the aisle.

That the same lovely lady spotted my cat brooch that belonged to mum on the aisle floor.

That there was a disquieting sideways wind that moved the plane from side to side rather than up and down.

That I wished the flight to be over intensely.

That I was swept by waves of disbelief that she was gone.

That I remembered last year flying into her arms and back to Sydney with a different grief about my marriage break up and that that grief now seemed particularly shallow and I regretted that it stopped me from focusing on her but that, at the same time, I savoured the consolation I found in her love and care.

And again, the sideways wind and the jolt that reminded me of all human frailty.

That I came up with a bad metaphor of like a kite straining against the wind, no rope tethering me now.

That I found I could block thinking about it and that stopped me heaving into my grief.

That, looking out the window, it just simply didn’t seem possible.

That the stupid Moroccan Lamb Pizzini reminded me that she would never take another plane trip to visit me.

That nothing could bring me comfort now, not her slip, underpants, fabric, bag, wallet, three-cat brooch, bag of hats, the handkerchief covered with little pigs that I had brought back from Japan and that Carm had told me was her favourite – all just pathetic attempt to cover a hole in my heart too big to even comprehend.

That whoever said human life was a vale of tears was right.

That the little bottle of water handed to me by the hostess brought a jolt of recognition; she loved their small size to put in her purse.

And again the sideways wind.

That I rued how so many of our conversations had centred on me.

That glancing down at my glasses reminded me of her in those last days and cleaning them for her and putting them back on for her, sliding the handles gently to avoid her eyes.

That the hard rubbing of cloth against a glass lens was oddly comforting.

That I placed my pen carefully on the empty seat next to me to make sure it did not stain her little pig kerchief.

 

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