My mother died of leukemia when I was sixteen years old. In the months leading up to her death, I didn’t visit her in the hospital. I went once but after sitting in my car in the parking lot for thirty minutes, I left without going in. I just couldn’t. I was not capable of dealing with what was happening.
Eventually, I’d be hurried to her bedside regardless: for fear she was not going to make it through the night. I remember the nurse coming into the waiting room quickly and saying, “She’s awake!” Next, I see my mother in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of her nose. My sister breaks down sobbing and rushes to her side. My mother is semi-hysterical, crying and exclaiming, “I am not ready to go!”
At the time, I had never exhibited much poise or depth. I tended to be somewhat hyperactive and scattered. I spent a lot of time daydreaming. Yet, in this most crucial moment, something I cannot explain happened.
In a strange flash of clarity that I have been inquiring to understand ever since, I grabbed my mother by the gown, jarring her present and bringing her eyes to mine, and said, “Mom, I love you very much and I’m going to do great things in my life and make you proud of me. I’m not going to come see you in the hospital again.” She nodded in acknowledgement and gave me a pained smile. I kissed her on the cheek and walked out of the room. That was the last time I saw my mother. Continue reading