That your mother is dying alone in a room at St. Francis. The stale sighs of a ventilator echo through the hallways, pumping one last moment of life into her over and over and over. There’s a sad sliver of hope in the sound of it, and in the silence that follows.  

She forgives the insolence, the years you spent overseas and never called, the sporadic letters full of vacancy, even your cold indifference to her cancer diagnosis. She has mostly forgotten your teenage shenanigans: the time you snuck bourbon into your lunch box and drank it at school, nights you slipped from your window to smoke joints in the woods with your fast friends, the sign you nailed to her door that said 10 Bucks a Blowjob Here. 

She understands your abortion at 19. And again at 22. 

Do you forgive the way she pushed you into that closet and locked the door, left you whimpering in the darkness, touched you in a place that makes you shiver still? Have you mostly forgotten her unhinged delight at your discomfort: describing what your father liked to do to her in bed, seducing your boyfriends, raging that you weren’t good enough for them?  

Do you understand why she intercepted the letters your father wrote to you after he’d left, and burned the t-shirts you slept in because they smelled of him?

She wants to see you.  She wants you to take her vein-roped hand in your own, stare down at her cratered face, the fading blue of her eyes, and listen as air snakes its way into the hollow blackness of her mouth.  

You are not supposed to feel this way; to long for the rattle of death. A leaf unfurling in your open palm, the rise of a spring sun and the green earth blooming beneath it.   

Jamy Bond’s work has appeared in Wigleaf, The Rumpus, The Sun Magazine, Peace Corps Writers, and on National Public Radio’s The Sound of Writing.  Her essay, What Feels Like Destiny, published in The Sun, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  She has an MFA from George Mason University where she co-founded So to Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art.  She lives in Washington, DC.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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