For the sake of grieving
I feel like I should write about the moment I heard. I don't really have anyone to talk to about it. Well, that's not entirely true, there are people who have offered, but I'm not good at doing that, and I'm not certain it helps.
I'm at work. Discussing with my employer, Glenn, about the merits of removing a surface mounted resistor and blobbing the gap with solder versus soldering a fine piece of wire over top to bypass it. My phone rings. Being overly conscious of what my employer thinks of me, I become frustrated at the prospect of answering a personal call. It's from home - my immediate thought is that it's Dad about something trivial, he's lost the remote control or something. I answer it and step outside (force of habit after living in a house with a roof that hinders any kind of cellular reception). It is Dad. He's concerned about something bigger than not being able to change channels while remaining seated though. He's calm but rattled. Secure, but with the impression that his mind wouldn't be the toughest safe to crack right now.
"I've got something to tell you. I want you to be sitting down and I want someone with you."
My anxiety levels shoot up. I'm standing in a paddock with no seats nearby and the nearest person just jogged off to the main workroom. Immediately I think about Mum. She's been sick for a couple of weeks, and cancelled her doctors appointment yesterday because she didn't feel well enough to go (not a paradox I'll laugh at in the future) - maybe she's had to go to hospital? Maybe it's pretty bad?
After a short and exasperating attempt at communicating the impracticality of finding somewhere to sit and someone to be around, I blurt "JUST TELL ME WHAT'S WRONG!"
"It's your mother. She's dead."
I gasp and wail something like "You can't be serious!?" but he confirms it to be true. I start sobbing and burbling, telling him I'm coming home, unsure if my words are being heard or understood. I stumble a few steps, my senses shut off briefly and I find myself kneeling in gravel. I repeat my intentions to come home one last time before I hang up. I gather my keys and wallet, tell Glenn I have to go home - having caught some of the commotion, he doesn't press the issue and accepts. Scott comes out of the main work room and demands my car keys, telling me he'll drive me home. The standard "anything to get out of work early" jokes are replaced the sound of a grown man crying his eyes out.
The ride home is short enough to feel the inevitable shock of the situation coming around every bend, but long enough to feel like the mind is being pressed through a fine cheese grater by the anxiety. One of the thoughts running through my head is "Maybe I misheard him - maybe he said Grandmother." - optimistic. Deep down I know it's much too much to ask that the tormentor of our atomic family be deceased instead of the nucleus. My father would have queried my reaction if the news was regarding his mother. Probably would have told me to stay at work, see you when you come home for dinner etc. Police cars parked outside snap me back to reality. The next few hours are spent sobbing next to my sister and wallowing in the regret that for the last few weeks I'd spent more time obsessing over how to win back a heartless ex-girlfriend than I had spent with my mother.