I wrote a short story about about a daughter following her mother’s final days on earth and how quickly the time elapsed. From one month, it turned to far less. How ironic is it that after writing this book nearly twenty years ago, I am living the nightmare?
Yesterday was the lowest day. I received a missed call at work from the nursing home. Thinking that the worst had happened, I immediately called back. The nurse, always cheerful and kind, informed me that the Bird’s breathing was shallow and raspy and that I should come immediately in case she was ready to say good-bye. Utterly distraught, I tearfully informed my boss who kindly offered to drive me there. I was so confused. My workload for the day was packed and if the nurse was wrong, I would sit there for the whole day missing out on helping the kids at school. Yes, in retrospect I sound crazy to me too, which my boss gladly pointed out! I chose my sister-in-law to drive me there as she knows my mum and has a history of happy memories with her.
When we got there, I was expecting…I don’t know! Maybe raspy breathing, or silence, or something other than what we found. We had to wait as they were assessing her and once we got into the room, she opened her eyes and smiled at us! There were no words to describe the confusion, anger, guilt, happiness and relief I felt. They were short lived as she closed her eyes again and went back into her deep sleep. We sat there in anguish. It’s hard to describe the mixed emotions running through when you don’t know what happens next. I giggled to myself, much to my sister-in-law’s horror. Then she started giggling and we were both hysterical before the laughter drained and sadness returned.
I thought about my book and how I had aptly described my character sitting on her mother’s hip, watching her sleep. I sat there, watching her drawn out features pulled by her elastic skin and her different noises. I sat for hours and nothing happened. The Hubble came to take us away to feed us and then we returned to our vigil. We chatted away, watching the flow of carers, nurses and fellow inmates coming to visit the Bird. By evening my sister-in-law had to return to her own family and we had to leave to fetch our sprogs. It was hard to leave her and I’ve been calling the home for any changes but nothing has happened yet.
When I wrote One Month To Live, I never imagined living out parts of the book, yet here I am now, in an alternate universe of confusion, waiting for her to die.