CHAPTER 78 Time Slows, At The End

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copyright 2017 Chris Smith  All rights reserved.

"Caught in a standstill between

light and dark


life and death

as I hold my breath

for time

to start again."


Tim drove up a few hours later. It was good to see him. It was good to see somebody who loved Mom, coming to visit her.

"Hey Kid," he said to me.

He wrapped his big arms around me and crushed me in a bear hug.

"Hi Tim," I said.

"It's good to see you guys," Tim said.

I smiled.

He and Dad hugged and he followed us inside to see Mom. She was awake but the morphine put her in an altered state.

"Hi Sis," Tim said.

Tim stood next to her bed, touching her open palm with his weathered hand. They'd met each other at a family reunion back in the 1970's and had fallen in instant like with each other. It was like watching two peas in a pod when they were together. Mom laughed a lot with him, like she was a kid again. She called him "Bro" and that's how she considered him. He was the brother who had been missing in her life.

"I'm glad I came," Tim said.

"Yeah, we are too," I said.

"I always have a feeling about stuff like this," he said.

He didn't stay long visiting Mom. I hope somewhere down deep, she felt the brush of his light against her in the fading darkness. I wanted to think so.

Then we walked outside together.

"Okay, I need a selfie," I said.

Dad rolled his eyes.

"Where do you want us?" Dad asked.

"Just right here is fine," I said.

"What's a selfie?" Tim asked.

"She's taking a group shot of the three of us," Dad replied.

I pulled out my phone and changed the setting so it would use the front camera. We stood there together, smiling and laughing in the face of death.

"What's that?" I said, pointing to the sky.

In the middle of the sky there was an odd looking light. But it wasn't the sun because the sun wasn't near it. It looked like a reflection off glass but the sky wasn't a glass window. I'd never seen anything like that before. I took a few photos.

"It's a sun dog," Tim said.

"Never heard of that before," I said.

I hugged Tim goodbye and gave him a poke, without realizing it.

"You're going to have to start doing that, you know," Tim said.

"What?" I asked.

"The poking," Tim said.

I laughed. But it hurt. There would be no more poking from Mom.

She was the little kid at the playground. If she liked you a lot, she'd playfully beat on you. For Mom that would mean she'd poke you in the abdomen. The more you asked her to stop, the more she did it. The thing we all hated, detested to the very core of our beings, complained to her and asked her repeatedly to stop, would be the very thing we'd miss the most. The implications of such a loss rang through my heart. I couldn't breathe.

She never cared whether it was appropriate or not. She'd poked a lot of people and made some enemies along the way because of it. A few people she'd crossed the line with and even poked in the dreaded belly button.

Not the belly button?!

Oh, yes, even there. Mom had no qualms about it either. It always seemed to be men she poked. She must have been that little girl on the playground at school, socking boys she liked in the gut or something.

It was totally inappropriate. But then Mom was the black sheep of her family. She was the one who did the things no one expected, starting with marrying a man who didn't fit the mold. Not only did she marry the wrong man, but she lived the rest of her life not fitting into the mold. She just wouldn't straighten up and flight right and it bothered people.

I suspect they didn't know what to do with such a defiant and head-strong woman. I suspect they didn't know how to love a woman who challenged them and didn't want to play it safe. And living outside the box, pushing the envelope, cost her. Some might say it cost her a family. But she made a new family with her husband.

Here Mom was at the end of her life and there weren't a bunch of people surrounding her. There wasn't anyone banging down the door to see her and say goodbye. Not that numbers mattered. I guess all that mattered was the people who did show up were the ones who would stand with her until the very the end. She'd earned at least that, for someone who loved her to show up on her last day.

I wished my Grandmother were alive. Every day I came up with new questions to ask her.

All the women in my family, on both sides, who'd left so many things unsaid and unresolved. So many had passed through these walls of life, unfulfilled within the core of their beings. My Mom would be added to the growing list.

I had so many questions of the dead, but none for the living. I had so many questions now and no one to ask them to.

I had so many questions that would be left forever unanswered.

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