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Writing from what I know (about death).

There is the nurse in her white uniform standing beside the bed. So snowy white that it hurts my eyes to look at her. Funny how this might sound but I can't help but notice that the nurse has a great figure. Well most nurses do. Must be all the running around through the warren of corridors, up and down the endless steps of marble stairs, the skilful manoeuvring of wheelchair bound patients.

I am by a window, looking out at the city and wondering how everything moves and breathes in a strangely chaotic yet organized way. A police siren can be heard but not seen. A red bus screeches to a stop. A man and a woman get on. I think how amazing it is that the people on the bus all happen to be bundled in to the same place, obligated to sit beside one another, to share the ride home to dinner and the normality of the evening newspapers and the six o'clock news.

The late sunshine of Autumn splits two sycamore trees in half, divides them into perfect silhouettes. Bare branches, black and defined, stand out like sculpted fingers, spread open, pointed upward to the evening sky, a sky that has turned into an Apricot Fool doused with crushed blackberries. There is a trapped butterfly beating her wings against the glass, futile wings, anxious to escape this place. Into hibernation. Or death? The nurse in her dazzling uniform is telling me that I can stay in the room. Her voice is a sterile echo;

'Stay, you can stay, it won't take long, it's okay to stay'.

What she doesn't say is,

'Why are you so aloof?

'She's your mother'.

'For god's sake'.

'Grow up'.

'Hold her hand'.

'The hospital is full of mothers and daughters'.

'Daughters and mothers'.

'Open your eyes'.

And there are all those people looking out at the hospital building from the safety of the bus and as they pass by I know they must be feeling sorry for anyone unfortunate enough to be in here, for the lone shadow of a woman who lurks by one of the windows. And then mother says,

'stay love, sure stay, it's grand'.

Her fingers grasping the bed sheet and letting it go. Grasping the bed sheet and letting it go. And then her hand falling limply to her side. Her palm turned upward. Trusting.

What do I do when I don't have a script to follow? Without a rehearsal to carry me along the scene surely flounders, the direction quickly becomes scrambled. What do I do when I turn my eyes to see the volcano that erupts on my mother's body, that has taken the place where her left breast used to be, where a big gaping hole lies there now? Where the spewing out of purple, black and red flames gives way to lethal noxious fumes. Do I look on and agree with the nurse whose lines are so well rehearsed?

'Well now, it looks good'.

'Why you are doing so much better'.

'Much better'.

Yes, I do. I look on and nod my head. That is what I do.

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Oh, Mary, what a hard thing

Oh, Mary, what a hard thing for you to have gone through. The weakness of the upturned hand was my own mother’s hand as well. And why is it so difficult to take that hand? I believe we fear our own tenuous strength will flow out and we will lose what little control we have.
I hope it ended well for your mother and you, despite the title. Such a personal, honest piece.
Best, Mara

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Thank you Mara for your

Thank you Mara for your lovely words. My mother died shortly after that time in the hospital. She believed she was in recovery. I knew otherwise. best, m