What Matters

by | Dec 7, 2021 | CNF, Issue Twenty Four

Your mother dies at 4am on a Wednesday. Does it matter that you have not talked to her in years?  That when you walked into her room yesterday, confusion confiscated her face. “Who is that?” she said, her lips pulled down into a well of deep disappointment.

Your mother dies at 4am on a Wednesday. Does it matter that you are holding her purple hand, puffed up like a water balloon, because when the body shuts down its fluids awkwardly roam and gather, unsure of where home is: is home in the wrist? In the knees? In the neck?

Your mothers dies at 4am on a Wednesday. Does it matter that every 30 seconds her eyes pulse with panic, because oxygen can no longer forge a path through the vaulted maze of her trachea? You imagine the porous pockets of her sponge cake lungs disintegrating, popping like the bubbles your daughter blows into hot summer air. You want to bend down, blow your own warm breath into her mouth, but before you can, the air surges once again and color saturates her face.

Your mother dies at 4am on a Wednesday. Does it matter that you put your fingers to her forehead, pet the thin white wisps of her hair, mimic a gesture she made when you were a child, suffering from a furious ear infection, your head a forest fire of pain? You remember her cupped palm over the black hole of your ear, scooping all the hurt away. You know that her childhood was like yours, a hell-scape of loneliness and neglect. Your gentle hand on her raw, suffering skin will make a difference.  

Your mother dies at 4am on a Wednesday. Does it matter that your sister, the one already dropping hints that she wants the gold ring with the flower-shaped diamond cluster, is yammering on about her playwriting class and how she will never read anything you’ve written, because it might influence her own artistic process? Two nurses buzz into the room like haunted angels to explain what you already know: the ears go last; sound, your sister’s voice, is like nails on a chalkboard. This will be what wakes you up weeks from now, hysterical in the night: why didn’t you tell your sister to shut the fuck up?

Your mother dies at 4am on a Wednesday. Does it matter that you and your sister argue over who gets to keep the fake rose the cremation attendants leave behind when they take her body away? You are willing to claw your sister’s eyes out to get that rose, made of fine yellow cardboard. Then you accidently drop it into a puddle beside your car and step on it, crushing its petals into pale, wet dust.  

 Your mother dies at 4am on a Wednesday. Does it matter that this is not how you imagined it would be? You remember all the nights you woke, fretting that regret would drown you in the end, worried that you would drop to your knees and weep like she said you would, like she wants you to. Instead, you are thinking about that Uruguayan plane crash in the Andes Mountains in 1972; how a handful of passengers survived by eating the bodies of their dead friends and were later criticized for their callousness. Had they gone too far?  Survival always comes at a price. You know this.

Your mother dies at 4am on a Wednesday. Does it matter that you fell asleep?  That you were not holding her puffed purple hand at the exact moment she slipped away? That you woke to a quiet room, a yellow moon blistering the sky from an open window, and your mother, alone in the bed, no longer breathing.

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