"Our lives can't be measured by our final years, of this I am sure."

- Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

31

Call me cold-hearted, ungrateful, any of those sorts of words. Tell me I didn't understand what it was like to be a mother, but I'd probably tell you I'd seen enough of other mothers to refute that. The point was that my mother's death was a whole different beast to deal with than my sister's.

I was used to living without her. I was used to not hearing from her. We had even speculated that that asshole would kill her either physically or mentally eventually. The general absence of her wasn't going to bear down on my everyday life all that much. Not like it did with my sister. The timing of it, so soon after Rose, was more of the shock than the act itself. The struggle was with the base tragedy of all of it. The tragedy of her life from when she closed the door on Charlie's house and left her husband, to the moment she opened the door of that asshole's motel room, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We grieved in a similar way to how we had with Rose, don't get me wrong. Ben had kept me focused in the aftermath of Rose's death. Five months later, Alice and I could do little else but cry together. We didn't know what else to do. It had been a long and tumultuous relationship of love and hate for Charlie, but when the first woman he loved died, he couldn't not grieve the loss of her too. He sat with us, hugged us, shook his head in confusion at what had befallen our family.

And when the fog of tears at the horror and sadness dried out, Alice and I bashed out every scenario, every emotion, every what-if, every sadness, every happiness. There were happinesses. We wouldn't begrudge her that. The conclusion we came to was that we couldn't have done much differently. Even if we got a second chance, knowing we would lose her, we still couldn't have done much differently. Over the years, we had reached out to her when we could, until it became fruitless and we let her dictate when she wanted us. We had done everything we could to try and wake her up to the reality of Phil. We'd fed her so many home truths, and she'd deny, deny, deny. If she ended a phone call by saying "love you," we said "you too." What more was there?

Would I miss her? In a way I guess I would. I knew deep down inside that along the road, Renee would have managed a few more of those random moments of motherly brilliance. Would I have her back as the person she was with the relationship we had? In a fucking second. Despite her shortcomings, she was my mother. She was beautiful. She had an unfortunate upbringing, an unfortunate change of heart in her thirties, made a poor choice and was polluted by a man in a way she didn't deserve. Inside of her was a kind soul that had birthed and loved three little girls. I loved that person. It was the person she had become that I was not at all fond of. But she didn't deserve to die, and she didn't deserve to die so brutally. We were under the thumb of death, where the pain and injustice was insurmountable, and you couldn't do a fucking thing to change it.

We buried Renee in a plot next to her parents. It rained that day, steady Seattle drizzle that did nothing to help keep our spirits up. What did help was the support that surrounded us. Edward, with his arm around my waist to keep me steady, an umbrella sheltering us in his other hand. His parents, Carlisle and Esme, stood behind us. Their warmth and kindness had been obvious immediately when they arrived at Charlie's to give me their condolences the evening prior. Alice held my hand at my right, with Charlie just behind us with a hand on each of our shoulders. Jasper and his parents were on her other side, Emmett, Ben, Jude, and Bruce stood opposite. A few other friends and family hovered in the background.

I tried not to look at that awful hole in the ground when that stupid varnished box with its shiny bronze handles started to disappear. This time it wasn't so much the box that bothered me. It was the hole, with the fake grass folded around its edges to disguise the fact that below was muddy brown dark oblivion. I hoped that if I didn't look, it wouldn't suck me into its vortex of wastefulness. I couldn't afford to lose any more bits of me into the earth or up into the sky. I needed to be here. I needed to be here for the family left behind, and the love who stood at my side. I needed to be here.