I was getting dressed for a wedding when I got the call. My husband and son were in the wedding party – they were getting into their tuxes…I was standing there in my slip. “You’d better get here” my sister said into the phone “if you want to say goodbye”.
Get there I did, alone. I drove, weeping all the way, knowing that it was really going to happen. My mother had cancer. Colon cancer that had spread. Everywhere. She suffered horrible pain. Still, I did not want her to go.
One of my tires threw a steel belt on the drive. It thumped, thumped, thumped…I did not stop to change it, but drove on, weeping. At the hospital I sat by her bed, holding her hand until she briefly roused.
“You came”, she said weakly.
“Of course”, I said, squeezing her thin hand – which once had looked so much like my own. Stong, capable, with stubby puffy fingers and rings too tight. Now her rings spun around her spindly fingers, tendons visible probably for the first time in her life.
“Where is Eric” she asked, inquiring as to the whereabouts of her first grandchild.
“In a wedding”, I said.
“I’m so sorry”, she said. So like her to apologize for inconveniencing anyone. She slept some more; I wept some more.
“I see horses,” she whispered. “They’ve got wings.”
“I love you, Mom” I leaned close and whispered in her ear.
“I love you, too”.
I left the room then. In the hallway my youngest brother (7 years old) asked my step-father when they could take Mommy home again. More weeping. I kept walking. And walking. I walked the halls most of the night, refusing to leave even when my husband and son showed up after the wedding and reception.
My mother died early the next morning. I miss her every day. Especially every June 8.