Time does not flow the way you think it should. If you travel down a river, you expect to see things and then they pass and they become farther and farther away. Time just isn’t like that. Things happen and days later, months or years even and you look back and it seems just like you were there, like it was yesterday and not hundreds of yesterdays.
In addition to the strange way time flows, memory locks you into a moment that never seems to change even though you know it is long gone.
So many things change in a year and yet some moments are exactly the same. I know, I feel the view of your window – I know exactly which one is yours. The trees are green and full because spring starts so much earlier here. Its hot outside, even though its April. But that’s normal too… It seems like I know my way everywhere, even though I didn’t just days before – the long drive from home, the carpeted halls, the renovation detour on the way to lunch, where to get a parking pass.
I am fine and I am shell shocked. We’ve done this so many times before that I just don’t get the same pit in my stomach that other people do whose first time it is to see their loved ones ill. But, I know that this time it is different, that it will be different and nothing will be same again.
You didn’t know we were coming. We were a surprise. You needed it, but it scared you too. There’s not many reasons we would come so quickly and with so little planning. We even took a cab which we never do.
You looked terrible. I know what you used to look like and this makes me sad. Its not a sudden change, but one that’s taken a long time to get to – it’s the price of the road you traveled to be with us so long.
Your smile was still there, even if it shook, even if it was followed by tears. Seeing you cry makes me cry, even now as I write this.
You were hooked up to so many things. Expensive stuff too. It wasn’t doing much good. Most of it made you more comfortable than you would have been otherwise. Its too bad you had to find that out.
I hope you weren’t jealous or angry because we ate. I know you were hungry sometimes and most of the time not, but the food you were allowed to have was awful. I am sorry I was so hungry – I always am under stress. It takes my mind off things.
We sat a lot. What else was there to do? We watched television – the guilty pleasure stuff from daytime like courtroom shows where two people act like buffoons. We talked. Sometimes it was trivial, sometimes not. I remember the stuff that wasn’t.
We waited for bad news a lot. There were a lot of people working for you and trying to keep you going.
You hated us seeing your weakness, hated needing help, hated being helpless. You hated the lack of privacy that accompanied your most private moments. You took it out on the nurse who made the poor choice of speaking Tagalog to her coworker in front of you. I still think she was tactless. You took it out on us, sometimes, but those moments are hard to remember.
What I remember most is my last day with you. I had to go. There’s only so long a husband and a 2 year old can be together without imploding.
I didn’t want to go. I think I know some degree of how you felt when I told you I had to leave. If it ripped my own heart out, yours must have been cut in pieces. I can feel your arms around me, my hands in yours. I hope I always remember your hands. You told me everything I wanted and needed to hear. I told you everything I needed to pour out of my heart. Time just wouldn’t stop that day. It barreled us down.
That walk to the elevator was the longest, shortest walk of my life, only steps from your door. It was more than that – I was doing willingly the very last thing I wanted to do in the whole world which was to leave you for the last time. Why did my body so easily do what I wanted least? It should have at least felt like I was dragging lead. Every step to the car, I wanted to run back and bury my head in your lap and cry like a baby. The only reason I could leave was knowing you weren’t alone in so many ways.
In the week after I left, your body began to shut down. You started getting ready too. You stopped eating, stopped talking. All the years of being fixable came down to having too many problems needing fixing. We spoke one time on the phone that week. I was in the car, in a parking lot with my son in the car. I don’t know if you called or I called. There wasn’t much to say – you didn’t feel good and there wasn’t anything that could be done about it. I said something stupid like get well and you nailed me for it. That was really dumb of me, but it makes me laugh a bit now that you didn’t let me get away with it.
Your heart finally gave up on a Thursday morning holding the hand of someone who loves you and cares for you as much, if not more, than I do. I always thought I would know, in some sort of cosmic shift way, when you died. They waited to tell me until late in the day and my own heart broke.
A year has passed, Mom, without your words of support and encouragement, without our morning talks and our afternoon gripes. Its been a year of your soulmate mourning you and me not being able to make the hurt lessen. In the last year, your grandson has grown in stronger, bigger boy who talks back and is teaching me how much grief I must have given you. Its so selfish the way I miss you – I want your words, your hugs, your selfless giving and your unconditional love. I want to know how I was growing up so I can understand my own son. I want you to watch him grow – I know how much joy he gave you. I want to know the answers to so many questions I didn’t even know I had a year ago.
I am doing okay, Mom. My life has ups and downs. I know you wouldn’t want me to be sitting here, stuck in my grief. I have a great faith in God and I know that there is something waiting for us on the other side of death and I am not so scared of it as I used to be. I pray for you because I know it’s the only way of changing whatever condition you are in now for the positive. I know that God is the most Merciful, the most Compassionate and the most Forgiving.
I miss you. – Your Daughter
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