I thought back to my last moments with her, and they reappeared in my thoughts as vividly as if they had just happened…
“Evey, I don’t have much time.”
I embraced Mom, careful not to hurt her. She’d been in that dreaded hospital for months now.
The pills she had been taking in an attempt to eradicate the cancer which had now consumed her colon had taken a horrible toll. I had never seen her look so frail and weak.
She couldn’t sit up in bed for longer than five minutes without slumping over, wincing in pain. She was 71 years old, exhausted and ready to die.
“Don’t talk like that, Mom.”
I studied the deep lines in her face, and her blue eyes that had once sparkled with life and vitality were now dull. I could not hold back my tears.
Dad stood back, stone-faced, hands shoved down in his pants pockets, lost in deep thought as the woman he had loved for decades faded from us in those few minutes.
“Don’t mourn for me,” she said. “This is a good thing.”
“Mom, you can fight this. There are other treatments available.”
Mom leaned back against her pillow, a faraway look in her eyes. “I’m done fighting. I just want to go home.”
Dad lost it then, vehement sobs spewing from his throat as he swooped in and clutched Mom in her hospital bed, pulling her close to him.
“My Isaac,” she said, gripping him with what little strength she had left, fighting the plastic tubes hooked in all over her body. “You’re strong. You’ve survived worse than this and moved on.
Tell me you can go on without me.”
“Baby, I can’t.”
“Yes, you can,” she said, kissing him on the lips.
Dad shook his head, tears streaming down his face. “I can’t.” His voice dripped with a sadness I had never heard from him before, sadness that could only be defined as a broken heart.
They locked eyes, and Mom cupped his face in her hands. “You can,” she said in almost a whisper.
They shared a long and adoring gaze, as though they were having a private conversation without speaking any words. It was the most beautiful moment I had ever witnessed between my parents.
“Deez, don’t go,” Dad wailed.
“I love you, Isaac,” she said, her voice cracking and weak. “And I always will.” Dad leaned in and whispered something else to her, but I don’t know what. He never told me.
They released their embrace, and she motioned for me to come to her.
“Mom, I love you.” I gave her a long hug and kissed her cheek.
“I love you too, Evey.” She leaned in with what she said next and whispered. “Take care of your father. Don’t let him crumble. Promise me now.”
“OK, Mama. I promise.”
Then she was gone.
I had never seen anyone look more peaceful in the immediate moments of death than my mother did right then.