I take the remote back to the nurses’ station.
“I think they need new batteries. Increasing the volume didn’t help.”
She’s so pretty. She’s the one who told me last week there’s nothing we can do but watch.
Watch and wait.
Today she smiles and says, “Your mum’s so sweet.”
“I know. I love her.”
“She’s so cute. This morning she said she’d be better if she could wake up.
I asked her how she was: I’d be better if I could just wake up. So sweet.”
My turn to smile.
She comes with the new batteries. “They were lost last week. So glad they’re found.”
Dad and I are putting together the puzzle edges.
1000 pieces for a pink flower and yellow butterfly. A small price to pay if she likes it.
A piece might be lost, we thought. Pieces, I mean. Lost pieces.
But she sits with Mom on the edge of the bed, thighs touching.
Mom winces. She says, “Sorry! Oh, sorry.”
We struggle together to figure out these gadgets.
The new batteries go in; they go back in: red stripe in the right, blue in the left.
She puts her arm around Mom and Mom leans in.
She strokes Mom’s hair, silver and fine, and puts every strand back in place.
They smile at each other. A sweet picture.
Mom tells me she won’t let me go, her arms laced around my neck.
But she does. She knows she must. She complies.
She’s so sweet.
I smile. “I love you, Mom.”
She loves me too, she says, Such a good daughter.
She smiles back. But it’s weak.
She fights to be good too.
At supper Dad says that last week, when they left my house, Mom napped at his place.
“She woke up mad. So mad. Wouldn’t leave. I had to fight.”
I look at him; he won’t look back.
“She said she hated me. She wanted a divorce. That I was stealing the house from her.”
I tell him I’m sorry; I’ve worried this would happen.
“She said she’d live off her own money. I told her she couldn’t afford herself.”
He is looking at his plate.
“I can’t do that again. That was too hard.”
I tell him maybe she shouldn’t go back to the house. Too hard.
He’s quiet; at a loss for words. At a loss. A gaping hollow reverberating thundering loss.
We can’t hear anything else.
“I don’t think she can come back.”
He still doesn’t look at me.
He’s not smiling.
Alone, I can hardly breathe.
Do hearts have lungs? Mine has stopped breathing.
All her flowers and all her loves. All in that house.
Does she know what she’s lost, what loss she’s incurred?
Does she know she’s losing?
I grieve for my loss of her.
I grieve for her losses. Her gaping hollow reverberating thundering losses.
Can she hear anything else?
Watch and wait.
Such a good daughter. Sweet.