One of the last things she told me was that she wanted me to be happy. She wanted me to take long walks in the woods and admire the green leaves around me. To marvel at the world around me with that kind of naiveté’s of a child, but able to analyze and share it with exuberance. She wanted me to be with a man I love, so long as he treated me well, and that I was with him because I loved him too. More than anything, she wanted me to be happy.
I was her angel, she called me that in those last days as we helped and cared for her. Some kind of strange angel fighting with keeping her mind straight working through chemical equations on take home tests, writing papers, holding a job and eventually wandering home to sit next to her on her bed while we watched television and movies together and gripe about how I hate my job. In the shadowy warmth of her dimly lit room I watched as she faded and thinned, like some strange nightmare in a time lapse.
Through in my broken memory I still remember her long thin hair flowing through my hands as I ran a brush through it. She’d often ask me to brush her hair after I came home, even though I wanted a moment of time to myself. It was soft as though her hair had been made from spun rabbit fur and a mousy brown that time had speckled gray with age. Even though in her last year it had fallen out and replaced by a strange downy white fuzz that I couldn’t recognize.
My mother told me how she still wanted to see the whales on the coast and how she had never gotten to live in Alaska as she hoped she one day would when I was off saving the world and that she’d never get to see my brother again or the ocean, or hitch hike to see the golden California coast like she did when she was younger. Those faded photos of her on the beach with my aunt remain in the broken down binder of her memories on the shelf. Together they smile in a past world never thinking that this would be how things would end with so many dreams left in the dust of memories, both of them dressed in flared bottom jeans and printed t-shirts of the 70’s walking along the coast drinking a few beers before going to their temporary home for the night so they could go to their summer job waitressing tables and cooking in the morning.
My mother was a runaway who always found her way home leaving my grandmother’s hair gray from worry. I know that half of her hair had to have turned white from my mother alone. Though some of the gray hair my mother had where because I had inherited that same runaway streak from her truly.
Her sickness and death left me with scars, deeper than skin or muscle can go; wounds on my heart and mind lead me down dark hallways trying to search for a way out. I have found myself to be a very different person than who I was then. It was as though the girl I once was died with the husk of a woman laid on a hospital bed in our living room. The world continued on and I died too, sitting in my chair beside her, waiting quietly as silent tears fell as the funeral home gathered her body up in a bag and carted her away. The world continued on without me as my soul worked to regain some form of shape and my mind tried fought to clear the image of her body and mind slowly wasting away.
I awoke sometime later it seems, months it seemed, to find myself in a house with our junk strewn about. A dream clicking in the back of my mind like marbles in a bag, telling me that this was not my fault, it was not a way to punish me. How strange an idea, but it seemed to sooth some of the wounds.
“My girl’s going to save the world.” I corrected her and said I was going to try. I found myself waking up looking around and wondering when everything around me had changed, from the stores, to my classes and home, nothing had stayed the same, especially me. In a strange metamorphosis I had found myself to be new, with many similarities, though more determined than before. It was like looking at the world with new eyes and unsure how to continue on, unsure where to turn and unsure where I could turn to rebuild a place to call my home.
But what I am working on is trying to be happy.
more or less emotional venting of some thoughts rattling around in my brain of real life events. my mother died of lung cancer close to a year ago after about a year of chemo and finding that another tumor grew in her brain, with a 10% of chemo possibly making it to her brain, then letting it be only comfort care. and my one year of recovery.