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In too deep

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“So, what will you do next?”, Norah asked. “It will be weird to go on without her.”, I said. Norah squeezed my hand. “We’re here when you need us.”, she said. I smiled sadly; my mom was all the family I had. “Is it weird that I’m not crying?”, I asked. “No.”, Norah answered decisively. “You do what feels right for you and let no one tell you otherwise! I think you are already accepting that she is no longer with us. Mourning is a different process for all of us.” I nodded. She was right. Lily had a normal life, with a normal family, normal job and normal friends. Focused on her career, she made no time for boyfriends. Not that the right ones wanted her anyways... But after her mom's death she is stupified when she learns that she is now the proud owner of 2 houses in Europe and a million dollar trust fund. Turns out, her life is not so boring anymore, her mom never was boring, and the job brings her into more problems than she needed. And the men, they are now fighting for her heart. Will Lily find her happily ever after, or is she already in too deep?

Prologue

Lily

I’m too young to deal with this. Heck, my mom was too young to die in the first place! But still, here we are. Aren’t we all too young to deal with parents passing away regardless of what age you are?

My mom was very active before she passed away, working, volunteering, you name it. I always thought she was suffering from the empty nest syndrome ever since I left for university and that that was the reason she tried to keep as busy as possible, you know, so she could forget about me not living with her anymore. I expected to see many people at the funeral and gathering afterwards. I just didn’t think that that would also mean that I would know very few of the people present! Having so many people in the room, and knowing so few, made it even more clear to me that I was now alone in this world.

Only a short week ago I received the call from my mom’s neighbor. When she dropped by for a coffee, my mom didn’t answer the door, so she decided to use the key my mom had left with her for emergencies. She found my mom lying on the kitchen floor and called an ambulance. The paramedics tried their best, but it was too late. My mom was dead. An aneurysm they told me.

So now I am here, surrounded by a sea of people who wanted to express their condolences to me. Guilt had been plaguing me the past week. What could I have done, I should have been there with her, I should have moved back in with her, and more of the like. All too little, too late that’s for sure, but it was still taking up a large space in my head. And also, I should have been a bigger presence in her life these past few years, because looking around the room and all the unfamiliar faces, I’m wondering whether I really knew her at all.

“Lily, my condolences.”, this lady said while she grabbed my hand with her two hands. “Your mom touched many lives.” I simply nodded as a thank you.

“Hi Lils, here.”, my friend Emma whispered in my ear from behind me. She handed me something. I looked down and saw she handed me a glass of wine. “Looked like you needed it.”, she said when I sent her an appreciative glance. My friends had my back in here.

“My condolences.”, a man said to me. He looked like he was barely older than I was. “Your mom was an amazing woman. She volunteered with my initiative.” He must have seen my blank expression because he felt the need to explain. “Thanks.”, I responded rather automatically.

“My condolences. Your mom was quite the wild spirit when we were younger.”, the next lady said to me. “I was surprised to hear she had passed.”, she continued. Her eyes had glistened over like she was reliving the past. I didn’t want to be rude because she was tearing up, but her comment made me curious. I could use many words to describe my mom, but wild wouldn’t be one of them. “That time in Italy sure changed her life.”

Before I could ask her more about Italy, another grey-haired lady had grabbed my hand and started petting it. “My condolences, girl.”, she said. “I remember your mom from when she was younger. She was always very polite and well behaved. I’m sure you will miss her a lot.” Wait, what? Had these ladies been speaking about the same person? You know, my mom? I just took a big gulp of the wine Emma had handed me before.

Next thing I know, I’m surrounded by a group of men. They seemed to be older than my mom had been but commanded my attention. “Our condolences.”, one of them said. Some of these men were balding, others still had a full head of black hair, but all wore their suits well. Even though they were a bit older, they had not been slouching! These men were fit. Maybe not hard muscled bodies anymore, but I guess they could still give me a run for my money. “Your mom was kind and beautiful. Only too bad we lost touch.”, one of them said. “Thanks.”, I answered. Somehow, it meant a lot coming from them.

Some groups of people were whispering and looking at me with pity, and maybe I was imagining things, but it seemed like angry glares were exchanged as well. I walked to Emma and Norah. “Can you get me out of here?”, I groaned. Norah gave me a little empathic smile. “You’re almost there.”, she said. “I know, I just want it to be over so that time can do its job.”, I sighed.

“Excuse me, are you Mary’s daughter?”, an older man asked me. Was it me, or did the whispering and glaring get even worse? The man had approached me with a confidence that bordered on arrogance. He had a very sophisticated look to him, and like so many of the men I had encountered today, he seemed extremely fit still. Yet, there was a sadness to him that I couldn’t place. “Yes, I’m Lily. Nice to meet you.”, I answered, holding out my hand for a handshake that he took with both hands. “I hadn’t seen your mother in years, but I wanted to pay my respect.”, he said. “I appreciate you coming here today.”, I said genuinely. “You look a lot like your mom when she was younger.”, he said, reminiscing to years passed. I noticed the man speaking with a foreign accent that I couldn’t place. “Thank you.”, I said, and the man was dragged away by someone that looked angry with him. But then again, I’m so tired now that I must be imagining things. All the events of the past week have drained me completely.

“Here.”, Emma said as she handed me another glass of wine in my hand after I plopped down on the couch. I took my heels off and laid my feet on the coffee table. “Thanks.”, I said and gulped down the entire contents of the glass. I just held it out to get it refilled. Emma happily complied. “Can I just hire you as my personal wine filler?”, I made a lame attempt at a joke. Emma chuckled.

“So, what will you do next?”, Norah asked. “It will be weird to go on without her.”, I said. Norah squeezed my hand. “We’re here when you need us.”, she said. I smiled sadly; my mom was all the family I had. “Is it weird that I’m not crying?”, I asked. “No.”, Norah answered decisively. “You do what feels right for you and let no one tell you otherwise! I think you are already accepting that she is no longer with us. Mourning is a different process for all of us.” I nodded. She was right.

I look around the living room, letting all the memories come to me. I hadn’t been living with my mom for at least ten years, but this will always be the house where I grew up. I guess it is part of life to grow up, but I would have loved to do that with my mom still around.

Chapter 1

Lily

Taking a deep breath, I opened the doors to the floor where my office is located. It was around noon, so hopefully most people on the floor would be out having lunch or enjoying the sunshine outside for a short break. And hopefully this would mean I get to sneak in without anyone noticing. Not that I hated my colleagues, or that I was expecting comments for showing up around noon. No, simply because I was already exhausted.

This morning I had sat with the solicitor for the settling of my mom’s estate. I was the sole beneficiary so it should have been straightforward. The house, bank accounts, those I expected. Maybe there would be a savings or investment account I didn’t know about. But instead, I left there feeling like I hadn’t known my mom at all! Turns out she owned a plot of land in Italy and a house in Sweden. And to top it all off, she had created a trust fund for me. A million-dollar trust fund. I’m trying to let it sink it, but none of it m

Heroes

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