It seemed that within minutes people began to arrive. A very dear friend was first on the scene. She instinctively tried to console me and then quietly began making phone calls to my list of family and friends. These were calls I was unable to make. It was too soon. I couldn't begin telling and retelling the news and circumstances of my mother's death. I called my brother to give him the news. I called the funeral director to begin arrangements. The first thing that needed to be done was to have my mother removed from her room, her cocoon.
The house was filling with family and friends. As I greeted each new face I cried. Somehow my sister and I kept finding our way back to each other for hugs and tears of mutual grief and strength. The person who had been most noticeably absent was Niki, my mother's aide and our housemate. She had left that morning for a new job. I had called her to give her the sad news. Now Niki, my mother's angel, had arrived. She hugged my sister and me and rushed upstairs to see mom and make her presentable for the funeral director who would be arriving shortly.
Making my mother presentable may sound strange or perhaps even ghoulish but not to anyone who knew my mother. This was a woman who would never be seen without her hair being perfect and looking perfectly presentable. I was not going to let her leave the house for her last time any other way. Niki instinctively knew this.
I was unprepared for the soul-cleansing wail that Niki gave when she went in to see Addie. My mother had become a second mother to her. They had an amazing bond. I was relieved that Niki was with mom. This was a facade of normalcy in a time of chaos.