“What did the doctor say?”Now you are standing in the doorway of your boss’s office and you are calmly telling her that you have to go, you are holding your keys and then you drop them. They make a loud clanging on the marble tile.
You are in the parking lot making calls, calls to airlines and rental cars and your husband, and everyone is helpful and efficient while you desperately try to hold it together. “Please don’t die before I get there,” you whisper to no one.The flight is five hours, the longest five hours of your life. Your insides have been stretched and rerouted and knotted in an uncomfortable way, making food impossible.
You get there and your sister looks drawn. Your mom is alive and talking, but she is on her knees hunched over in bed, like she is praying. That is the only way she can breathe.She is lucid, her mind is sharp, it is her body that has deteriorated these past two years, eaten from the inside out by cancer. Your sister tells you privately that the last x-rays show cancer in 90% of her body, little cancer spots everywhere looking like reverse Christmas tree lights. You wonder how someone can still be alive this way, but looking at your mom you know that it is sheer force of will.
You stay with her you talk to her you hold her hand you feed her yogurt. She says a few words. Your brother comes then your uncle and lots of neighbors and a handful of random cousins and friends. They are here to say their goodbyes.The Hospice lady gives you a pamphlet called, “When Death Is Near,” and you stare at the title wondering why it can’t be called, “When Death Is Lost and Has No GPS.” You don’t want to read it, but you do.
The next few days are a blur with unusual words like morphine, coma, and mortuary tossed around.On Monday morning, she dies.
You were able to reconcile with her four days ago, to say what you needed to and have her nod, but it’s still hard. She’s your mother and now she’s gone.MOV