Jet lag awakens me at an ungodly hour when everything is silent except the almost imperceptible hum of the building's life force. I imagine that there must be clubs in the centre of town where people are dancing and sweating to the beat of some amped up rhythm. But, then, I remember I am in Middle America and most clubs would be long shut down at this ungodly hour, especially on a Monday. "No," I tell myself, "this time zone is asleep."
A railway line runs along the edge of Middle America. I don't know how how far away it is. Maybe five miles. Maybe fifteen. In the five or fifteen mile distance I hear the throaty foghorn of a passing train. It's a rumbling bass that from this distance is a whisper announcing that a train is running full steam ahead. You better clear the tracks.
Trains in the UK don't make that sound. Do they?
I think about the train's rumbling steam trumpet, a low wail that sound's nothing like a whistle.
Definitely 'horn'. Whistle is a misnomer.
I pull myself out of the bed that I am sharing with my mother and move to a sofa in the living room where I will put myself to thinking not of the sound of far-away passing trains, but of serious things.
My mother is grief-stricken. The days seem to pass normally with trips to the grocery store and lunches with friends and admiration for the golden sun-shiny days that come in the middle of winter. She gets ready normally for the normal like days. She bathes and drinks tea and puts on lipstick. She combs here hair even though she keeps it short since it's grown back. Short enough not to even need a comb. In short, she doesn't seem haunted or depressed or distraught.
She celebrates cocktail hour as she always does, with a martini. With dinner she drinks what is probably one glass too many of wine. Like me. She doesn't come to bed when I do. I'm suffering from jet lag. My eyes droop. I cannot stay awake any longer.
Later I am jarred awake by her sobbing.
I go to her and put my arms around her and tell her how sorry I am.
Like a crazy person she sputters out words that do not jibe with her apparent state of being.
"I ... I ... I ... am ... am ... so lucky. I am so lucky."
What the hell?
"I am so lucky you are my daughter."
She convulses with a new bout of sobbing and is no longer focusing on how lucky she is because she is my mother but rather on the gaping hole that her partner's death has left. She says she doesn't know how to go on, doesn't know if she wants to go on. Through her blubbering I hear her dark admission: she'd like to be with him.
I can't make it better. I can only wait and hold her hand.