Fiction by Heather Dawson
A about a year to the day on which my mother was diagnosed with the death, she was overcome with faintness and fell a hard fall and crushed her head and spirit and refused care and refused all my cajoling and needling and persuading, crying and pleading and screaming ... she could not be moved. A tall, strong Scotswoman never needs the physician's care, never trusts the medical field on the whole and so I screamed my last scream and for two weeks did not scream nor cry nor cajole nor plead nor needle nor persuade. And she stood firm too. And I remember, it was at Luca's performance, I saw her for the first time in many weeks. During our time of silence, my siblings had asked me to soften but I was as stern as she and had hardened my heart against her, until that night when it melted and all was forgiven and set right ... but not really.
After that she was never quite the same. Once so beautiful and chic, now her arms hung off her shoulders like dead tree limbs. She rarely smiled that knowing, silly smile, she was often perplexed, cross with me, accusatory... and I ignored these new traits saying she's just getting on ...
But she wasn't, and time passed and the day came when she came to my home to help with Luca and Zoe and she said to me 'I'm tired - may I lay down for a bit?", a small infection of the upper respiratory system, she said, nothing at all to worry about.
And weeks later, at her home, my father called me as she lay in bed for hours on end until I lay down next to her in the darkened room and she whispered 'heather, I woke and I knew not who I was - if my own mother was alive - or if I were a child or a grown woman - I thought I did not have children nor a husband nor grandchildren - I am frightened ...' And I was frightened in kind ..
And this time I was softer. I enlisted the help of others and found the care she was willing to accept and those who took her into their care, found the death laying deep within her chest and her head, her ribs and her root, in every place and in every cell they found the death and I tried to fight the death and she did too but it crept over her body as a fog.
And in the end from her hospital bed she asked me to take her home and I said yes ...
'Do you know what this means?'
'Are you mad at me?'
'Never - let's go home.'