"Noo!". My shrill cry was carried with the currents to my father's room adjacent to mine. He yanked the door open and burst into my room just as I jerked up from sleep, my breathing laboured. He took one look at me and knew, for the pain he saw in the deep blue within my eyes, was mirrored in his with a taint of green.
It's been a year now since Momma died. It was a glorious morning, I remember, August the 8th: one of those days you wake up so well-rested and light. Blinds drawn, the warm sun trickling in, I decided it was going to be a perfect day. I glided out of my room (well, more like staggered) and down the hallway to the largest room in the house, my parents'. It was odd that Momma hadn't come to wake me, as she usually did. The door creaked open loudly (Papa had told me to oil the hinges, and as usual, I forgot to do so). A lone figure lay on the king-sized four-poster she shared with Papa.. It lay very still, too still, like the bodies of souls long gone we dissected in medical school. God, no! I drew nearer shakily, and my heart banged against my rib cage, like one confined in a psych ward desperately seeking to escape from a foreseen dread. The tremors that accompanied my arms as they extended from the rest of my body to touch her were reminiscent of the violent turbulence in my heart. Placing my two fingers on her left carotid, the cold and stillness travelled up my arms and froze the sound that sought to erupt from my throat, in place. I wasn't exactly sure but I thought I could see the first signs of rigor mortis already, and the universe seemed to borrow the stillness and gloom that suddenly came to be. I could not scream: one only screams about what one has accepted. It didn't feel real, yet. Maybe I was in a dream. Maybe she was just playing a prank. Maybe...maybe she wasn't dead. I heard footsteps and then Papa calling out my name. He must have been wondering why I hadn't brought him his coffee in the study where he usually was from the wee hours of the morning till dawn. "Papa!", I tried to shout , but only a whisper came forth. He opened the door, took one look at me sprawled by her body, cuddling her head. 'She's so cold, Papa'. I remember wondering why he just stood there staring, not a word or emotion. Then he turned and walked away.
So Momma had had breast cancer. It was discovered late and very little could be done to stop the silent reptile which had crawled about her entire body, leaving poison where there was once vitality. I discovered late, too late. I loved her. And I love Papa. I wasn't sure, though, I could forgive them for taking away precious moments I could have spent with her; for leaving with me forever, words I never got to say and love I never got to show.
Some nights, like this, my dreams lead me to that moment I see her lying so still. Daddy is still pretty badly shaken up, and I know how much he wanted to just let go. I know because so did I: ledges suddenly became so enticing, battling with the knives on the shelf for my affection. But he hangs on for me, and so I will for him.
Momma was the life of us. Who knew she'd almost be the death of us.
Add new comment