I knew she was declining by the tone of her text messages but to walk in and see her for the first time in almost a week was one of those sights a human can never unsee. My brain immediately pulled out its swiss army knife and started carving, it started leaving that imprint in the trunk of my memory for me to recall forever. It is amazing how the mind picks and chooses what will remain as relevance, with needing little effort to recall.
She couldn't get up from the table to greet us today - still in her pajama's, saving the little energy she has left to do things like remain a woman and put her favorite coat of deep ruby lipstick on. It stood out against the color of her skin, the kind of yellow that is left over in the bowl after I've painted a watercolor sunset and rinsed off the brushes.
I remember looking over as we drove up I-35 to Chandler, Oklahoma where my grandparents had laid down their roots and she'd have her left leg bent in a triangle and the windows were rolled down, wind in her long auburn hair. The most beautiful smile when she looks over at me, hitting rewind on the tape deck so Roy Orbison could sing Pretty Woman again for the hundredth time.
She'd been divorced from my father for almost 3 years by then and there were many weekends her and I would travel that highway like a twisted version of Thelma and Louise, headed north, not a care in the world. I watched her on those trips. I studied her, mimicking the light hair flips, questioning the ambiance of sorrow that permeated the vehicle, and searching her eyes for my own.
I keep trying to figure out what happened, what did I miss, why did she hide her pain from me? Just a couple of weeks ago she was walking laps excited to tell her grandson she'd gotten up to 4, we were celebrating Christmas, life was normal(ish). And now, and now I just sit and stare at the person who gave me life, who has sustained my life, and who has been the only person I could ever depend on just morph into this thing I do not recognize.
As I sit scanning her body, her trembling of hands, I become courageous enough to get past the new mountains and valleys her face now holds and rest my eyes upon hers. She has shut the windows. When I looked, I saw acceptance. My soul, immediately pierced by this, unleashes. Between sobs I ask her if she's scared in which she replies she is not. Why I expected any different is beyond me, but I do wonder if this is the truth. I do wonder if she is scared. I go on to tell her I am scared, mom, I'm terrified - I was not ready for this, and I don't know what to do. She summons the energy to reply to me in that familiar tone she's always used with me when requiring my full attention - I should not fear this, death is inevitable and that no matter what, I will be ok.
In this moment, my mother is dying, and it is happening rapidly. My mother is dying, and I have no one. This is my reality. I have fought for almost 3 years and am about to be divorced from a sociopath who despite this divorce, continues to abuse our children and me. I have been let down by every single human that was supposed to protect me, and she knows this. She knows she's about to die and her only child will be alone, really alone, for the first time ever, in a very, very cruel world. I am full of anger, guilt, regret.
I saw her lip tremble as she hugged her grandchildren goodbye. I saw my children with sorrow in their eyes and love in their embrace. I saw all of this as I floated above.
This might kill me.