– Nonfiction by Cathleen Daly –
My mother doesn’t wake up anymore. I drive over to the apartment in the early evening, arms piled with things I think she needs. Dad sits alone reading in a faded, green armchair.
“Hi,” I say, leaning down to kiss the top of his head. I reach in my purse and hand him the folded eulogy I’ve written about my mother.
“Ok,” he says, remembering that I’d asked him to look it over. My father sits up to adjust the lamp behind his head. Otherwise the room is entirely dark – he’s lit from behind. He straightens the front of his grey V-neck sweater and unfolds the eulogy. Through the doorway I see rows of pill bottles lined up along the kitchen countertop.
“I’m going to see her,” I mumble.
He glances down at the pages as I turn to walk down the hall. I hear him sigh, releasing what I can’t imagine.
My mother hasn’t woken up in twenty-four hours and looks like she’s asleep. The hospice nurse mentioned a few days earlier that cancer patients could slip into a coma. Mom’s head is turned to the side as if she’s gazing out the window. I bend over and smooth back her auburn hair, where the grey strands have begun to spread out like spider webs.
I will never see you very old, I think.
A beige sweater lies at the foot of her bed and classical music plays from a radio on the bedside table. I sit down and lace my fingers through hers. I want to wake her. I’m so glad to see you, she’d say. Maybe she’d ask how long she’d been sleeping. I’d wrap the sweater around her shoulders and help her out of bed. I think back to only a few weeks ago, when we could walk to the kitchen together and make chamomile tea.
There’s a photo on her dresser from a trip to Paris that she took with my father. It looks like fall, and they’re in a park. My mother’s wearing a raincoat, her hair pulled back off her face. Dad said it was a business trip in the late 70s. In the photo, Mom gazes up at my father as he laughs, his head tilted back. She told me once that those business trips to Europe with my father had been everything. I hold the image in my mind, imagining them at a small bistro – sipping house wine before walking back to their hotel.
I dim the light next to my mother’s hospital bed and there’s a soft glow warming her face. I hear Dad down the hall and walk toward him.
“This is beautiful” he pauses, his voice breaking. “I have one small change, but other than that it’s perfect,” he says, taking off his glasses to rub his eyes before continuing. “You say that you’re so proud to be her daughter. I’d change that to you’re so proud to have been her daughter.”
Outside the rain is heavy, falling in rhythmic taps against the glass. But I still hear the music coming from my mother’s room.
About the Author – Cathleen Daly
Cathleen Daly is a writer, mother and wife living in Nashville, TN. Her words have appeared online in: Litro Magazine, Motherwell, The Griefcase and Motherscope Journal (print). “Eulogy” is a vignette from her upcoming collection, “I’m All Yours: A Memoir in Glimpses.”
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