Watching Your Mother Die


You push your metal chair way back in the cramped hospital room. You’re still only two feet from her bed, but you need space to breathe—even though she barely can.

You watch her 59-year-old mouth gape like a dying carp’s and thank god and the morphine that she’s unconscious. You ignore the fact that you’ve been sweating the cancer-ward smell—latex, alcohol, flat Sprite—out of your skin for weeks.

You also ignore the truth: that time and tumors can’t fill the chasm between you and the woman lying there. You feel the old hurt mix with the new hurt so savagely your bones ache.

You wait for someone to race out of the writers’ room to hand you the revised script—the one that spares you and your siblings this low-rent death scene.

When no one comes, you look up at her blood pressure on the monitor. Just as it hits zero over zero, you pat her foot and say loudly, “Everything’s going to be okay, Mom. It’s all going to be okay.”

Then you cram the reality that nothing ever was—or ever will be—okay back down your throat.

A decade later, you wonder when you’ll start missing her.

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