It happened for the first time Tuesday afternoon. I was walking through the pressroom on my way to a late lunch.
For some reason, an obscure song my mom never liked was running through my head. I thought of her disdain for the song, smiled, and thought, "I haven't called Mom today -- I should do that."
Then I realized I haven't talked to Mom for a week-and-a-half, and I won't be talking to her -- at least not in the conventional sense -- for a long time. We lost her on Sept. 30, and I think it is just now setting in for Dad, Sean and me.
When facing the reality of life without Mom, I thought I'd do nothing but miss her all the time. In truth, it takes a while to actually someone.
We spent several days consumed with making the arrangements of a funeral and burial, visits with countless relatives and friends and the actual visitation and funeral service. In reality, you can't properly miss someone when, even in death, she is the central focus of your life for several days.
Since then, we've been dealing with the decisions of what's now best for Dad and their old house. Still, too busy to grieve.
And so it was that it took 11 days to get far enough from the situation that a random memory could actually catch me off guard. Several times last week my brother and I would be trying to come up with a computer password or find a safe deposit box key and say, in jest, "We'll just call Mom."
But this time it was an accident. I had to stop, catch my breath and then continue walking to my car.
I know it's something I'll keep doing for a long time. In my lifetime, a number of people have been in contention for the title of my "best friend."
While every one of those people still mean a lot to me, I've only recently realized that for the first quarter century of my life, my mom was my best friend. I was probably too consumed with being cool at earlier points in my life to realize that fact.
Until Nicole came along, when anything important happened to me -- good, bad or ugly -- the first person on the other end of the phone line was Mrs. Jane Jernagan. In the five years since then she was still a close second.
And although she's no longer in the running, I haven't had the heart to remove her name from my phone just yet.
These things take time.