When my dad met my mom, they hadn't liked each other one bit. Dad thought that mom was too into her work to understand what love truly was, and mom thought that dad was just a hopeless romantic fated to break way too many hearts. Then, on my mom's twenty-third birthday, dad showed up at her house with a bunch of their mutual friends for her party.
Mom had prepared the perfect meal, the perfect music, and the perfect games. But dad, being the opposite to mom's perfectionist personality, turned her plans upside down when he suggested to just go straight to drinking and dancing instead of following her tight schedule. This birthday incident was not the only time that dad ruined her plans, but with each broken schedule and with each annoyed expression that they shared, they slowly fell in love. Dad knew that mom needed him to show her that life doesn't always need to be planned out, and mom knew too that without her, dad would just be an irrevocable mess. They had a plan. They would help each other, love each other, and raise me with both of their standards for life.
Walking in on a tidy, impossibly clean living room now, shows how much of dad's messiness mom needs in her life. Dad was her crooked picture frame, her slightly off-centre glass vase, and her mix-matched couch cushions. Without dad, mom is a neat-freak and frankly, though I know that it helps her in keeping her mind off of reality, it is driving me crazy.
"Mom?" I drop my bag onto the closest pleather couch. "Aren't you supposed to be at work?" My voice carries around the house until I hear a grunt from down the hallway in her room. "Mom?"
Her door is wide open and the sunlight from her window filters in and onto her pale blond hair. She's lost a lot of weight since dad died and her body looks weaker as a result. She's wearing her cleaning clothes, which consist of a ripped pair of navy blue sweatpants and a stretched under-shirt. "Mom, what are you doing?"
Her bedroom, like the rest of the house is neat and tidy. The queen-sized bed, with its lavender duvet, is perfectly made and the four large pillows are plump and wrinkle-free. The full-length mirror on her bathroom door is streak-free and the wood floors gleam in the sunlight. She looks up from where she is scrubbing away at the baseboards and gives me a wide smile. "Hey Sweetie, how was school?"
"It was interesting," I say, before bending down and placing a hand on her shoulder. "Mom, stop."
"That's good to hear, did you make any friends?"
"Mom, it doesn't matter, just stop."
She pauses for a moment, the scrubber in her hand. "It's just so messy."
"It's fine mom. It's clean."
"No, it's not clean enough."
I sigh, sitting down beside her and crossing my legs. "Aren't you hot in that getup? We're not in Canadian temperatures any more."
"The air conditioner works wonderfully," she assures me before poising her hand over the baseboard again, ready to continue her task.
"Didn't you have work today?" I ask quietly.
"I went," she smiles back at me, her eyes watering. "I finished early so they let me out."
Typical of my mom to finish everything in the most correct and swift way possible so that she can come home and clean.
"Mom, please, stop."
A sob escapes her throat. It shatters the silence in the house and her shoulders start to tremble uncontrollably. After some minutes of incessant crying, she finally takes a few deep breaths. "I miss him, Julie."
"I know mom," I whisper, watching her back rise and fall with her pain. "I miss him too."
We sit there for several more minutes before she collects herself. I pull her away from the baseboards and towards the living room and tell her about my first day of school.