I watched as my mother died. I held her hand. I grieved. I cried. I ran from the room at midnight. I called her brothers and her sisters. I called all those who knew her. I called my boss; I asked for bereavement leave. I watched my mother die.
I left the room as my mother died. I remember as she stuck her tongue out in desperate desire to breathe. She died in her sleep. I came back into the room. I held her hand. I leant over her already dead body. I grasped her hand; I desperately hoped.
I had previously learned that hearing was one of the last senses to go. I grasped her hand. I leant in. I whispered.
"I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you …"
I left the room. She gasped, unconscious, organs failing, lungs grasping. I remember. I remember her tongue, sticking out; she coughed. She was not awake. She was asleep. Still. She acted. She strived for life. Unconscious. She coughed. She stuck out her tongue. She inhaled, a harsh and sudden inhalation of breath. Not enough. She died.
I ran from the room. I knew, deep in my soul, no, deep in my psyche, I knew. Maybe my soul, maybe my psyche, whatever, does it matter? No. I knew that she was dying. I knew that I was only her son. I knew that she had a daughter, I knew that she had brothers, and that she had sisters. I ran from the room. I called her brothers. I called her sisters. It was midnight. I called them. I called her husband, my stepfather. I told them that she was dying. My stepsister did not run. She stayed.
She watched my mother die. I rushed into the room. I glanced at her, my stepsister. In a rush, I took her hand. I do not remember taking a chair. It must have been there. I was sitting in it. I took my mothers hand. My stepsister was not there; my stepsister was not important to my experience of this moment. I leant in. I desperately hoped. I said, over and over again, those three words…
"I love you"
She was already dead. My mother was already dead. My mother was dead. She had died.
I grasped desperately at her hand. I held it in my hand. I clung to her hand. She was so small. Cancer and chemo and radiation had taken from her all substance. No. Fuck that. It had taken nothing from her, for she was. She was beautiful. She was strong. Cancer took her, but that bastard cancer was nothing compared to her life, her vitality, her god damn existence. She was, and no damn disease could possibly take that away from her.
She was. Past tense. She is dead. Killed by a damn disease. I tell myself that it's alright. I tell myself that it matters more that she lived then that she died. I tell myself … and yet I mourn. She lived, yes. Her life is far more important than her death. She died, yes. She died with a family. She died with devoted children. She died owning a home, a house, she died knowing that her children would be taken care of.
She died far younger than she ought to. She died.
I loved her.