Frowning, I ask, “What the hell am I gonna do with a vase?” My apartment is hardly filled with flowers, and my decision to sell it means I would have even less use for a vase.
Sadness covers Mum’s face and she puts the vase down and gives me a long look. “Are you really leaving tomorrow? And never coming back?” I hate the pain I can hear in her voice.
I sit next to her on Claudia’s couch. We’ve started going through her belongings and Mum’s struggling with it to the point I’m beginning to think we need to put it on hold. Luckily, Claudia lived in my parents’ granny flat so we have the luxury of being able to take all the time in the world. “I’m sorry I’m leaving, Mum, but it’s too damn hard to stay here at the moment. Everywhere I go, I see her and think of her, and I need a break from that while I try to get a grip on the fact she’s never coming back.”
Her eyes tear up. “I understand that, Jett, but you don’t have to sell your apartment to do that.”
“Just because I sell the apartment doesn’t mean I won’t come back and buy something else. I’ve been wanting a change for awhile now so this is as good a time as any to do that.”
“It just feels like you’re getting rid of everything in your life…” Her voice trails off, confusing me.
“What else am I getting rid of?”
She watches me quietly for a beat. “Presley.”
Her name causes my heart rate to speed up.
I stand and walk to the window. Staring out of it for a couple of minutes, I think about what she’s said. Finally, I turn back to her. “I can’t do it, Mum,” I whisper, unable to force my voice out.
My heart leaps into my throat as I finally decide to admit my greatest fear. “I can’t let her in… what if I lose her, too?”
Mum’s tears course down her face and she comes to me and puts her arms around me. “You can’t live your life that way, Jett. I don’t want that for you.” She hugs me for a long time and I give in to it; I let her mother me.
When she lets me go, she searches my face and then says, “Presley was good for you. I’ve never seen you so happy, not even from your music.”
“Well, it’s all fucked now,” I admit as the dark cloud of regret threatens to swallow me.
Mum shakes her head. “No, don’t ever say that. Even when everything seems lost, there’s always a way.” Her voice is so forceful and it stuns me she can feel this way even after losing Claudia.
“How can you say that?” I demand. “Your daughter was taken from you so I’m not sure how you can ever say there’s always hope. There’s not!”
She lets out a long sigh. “There is. Just because someone dies doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. We still have each other and we have our amazing memories of Claudia. She might be gone, but they can never take her away from us completely. And we will see her again one day, Jett. I have hope for that. And I have hope that you will find your way and find love; that you will let someone in who will love you unconditionally like Claudia did. And I have hope you’ll give me a grandbaby.” She gives me one of her beautiful smiles. “There are a lot of things to hope for.”
I let her words sink in, not entirely sure she’s convinced me, but she’s at least given me a fresh perspective to think about. Returning her smile, I say, “Claudia took after you so much. That sounds like something she would have said.”
Her smile turns into a laugh, and I see both the happiness and the pain flit across her face. “Yeah, it does.”
I rub the back of my neck as the energy moves through me. It’s such a conflicting energy; one minute it’s a burn that feels like it will incinerate you, and the next it’s a glimpse of promise that things can get better. “Fuck, why does life have to be so hard sometimes?”
“I don’t know, but sometimes things have to fall apart before they can fall into place. And I’m not talking about your sister here.” She takes a breath before pleading with me. “Promise me you’ll think about that.”
Fuck, I’m already thinking about it.
I’m wondering if the pain of shutting someone out of your life might be worse than the possible pain of losing them.
I’m wondering if Presley and I might have a chance after all.
An hour later, Mum leaves me so she can go and cook dinner. She’s making roast for my last dinner before I leave tomorrow. To say I’m looking forward to roast is an understatement. It’s been my favourite meal since I was a kid.
After she leaves, I assess our progress. Claudia had specified in great detail in her will where she wanted everything to go and she had also specified her wish we didn’t drag our heels on this. My sister had a huge heart and wanted most of her belongings donated to various charities, so today we’ve managed to box nearly everything up. However, I realise we haven’t gone through her desk yet so I do that now.
There’s so much shit in her drawers, it’s going to take me awhile to go through it all and make sure there’s nothing in there we want to keep, so I drag the first drawer out to the table and sit down to do this. I separate out the old bills she’s paid but not yet filed, the university letters, and other various documents.