My mother died a week ago yesterday. It was completely unexpected. Although she was 63 and had some health issues, she’d been doing fine. There was no way to see it coming.

Five years ago, I left behind a career & life that had left me unsatisified at its best, and miserable at its worst. I moved home to LA & to my mother. It was supposed to be temporary. I ended up staying.

I came home last Saturday to find her dead.

I came home five years ago to find myself. In the process, I found a relationship with my mother as an adult. I had worried that it was weird that I had little desire to move out in these last five years and get back out on my own. But today, I realize how lucky I was to have had that time.

So here I am.

We scattered her ashes 2 days ago. I know it was exactly as she wanted. It was perfect–for lack of a better word. A beautiful and somewhat comforting moment.

Family & friends gathered to remember her and celebrate her life yesterday. I’m sure everyone else would tell you it was a nice get-together. For me it was torture. I sat there in the backyard of family friends looking for my mother. She was always there at all their other gatherings. When looking at pictures of me & my best friend when we were younger, I had to ask her mother how old we were in the picture. That killed.

And today, I realized that getting to & through the funeral was the “easy” part–and I use the term “easy” loosely. The constant visits by friends & family have stopped. The daily phone calls to see how I’m doing & whether I need anything have ceased. Everyone else is going back to their normal lives. And I’m sitting here trying to figure out what my new “normal” is.

Luckily, my younger brother is here with me & we are going through this together. Even though my parents divorced when I was 12 & their relationship was strained for many years, my mother & father had become friends in recent years–probably out of a need to commiserate about the choices my brother & I made. My father has been incredible. My mother & I had often joked that she needed to stick around because my brother would be an emotional basket-case & my father useless & stoic. I would be the one stuck taking care of them. Instead, she’s not here; my brother is remarkably strong; my father incredibly useful & open; & I’m the one who’s floundering.

As my father reminded me yesterday, I’m grieving & I’m still in shock. I’m supposed to feel like shit & I’m not supposed to know how to feel. On an intellectual level, I know it will get better & I know I will survive. But on an emotional level, I don’t know how I’m supposed to do this & I’ve never felt so lost.

I want to do something. I want to throw myself back into work, but I can’t even focus for more than 2-minutes on anything or go more than an hour without my eyes welling up with tears. I’m not ready to act like everything is normal. I’m not ready for anyone to expect anything of me.

So, I’m doing this. I’m writing. I never intended this blog to become THIS personal, but this feels like I’m doing something. I can focus on this.

The 1st draft of my novel is sitting here on my desktop. I’d planned to finish reading it last weekend & to get started on my 2nd draft this past weekend. That hasn’t happened. And I’m not sure it will. I don’t know if the “me” now can write that story anymore. I’m going to give it time, & see what happens. But I get the feeling I have to let that story go, & look at the new one that is floating in my head. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I can feel something there. We’ll see.

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote in my journal, “Without writing, I am adrift.” Now I realize, without writing & without my mother, I am adrift. I’m clinging to writing to keep me afloat.