“I finally come to visit you and no one knows where you are. The nurses are in a slight panic, though they don’t want me to know that they can’t find my mom. They told me you were with the doctor.”
She laughed as he took a seat next to her on the bench. Her hair had grayed fully and thinned so much over the last year that it now reminded him of a wisp of cloud. Her once stocky build now atrophied to bone nearly seen through opaque skin. He hardly recognized her once strong back now stooped as if the mere act of sitting was too much for the spine to bear. As if she might at any moment snap in two. The woman sitting next to him was the same who gave him life, but she was not the woman from his memory who would remain his true mother.
“So why aren’t you in your room?” he continued.
“They can’t help me anymore. If I’m going to die, I’ll do it on my own instead of cooped up in someone else’s deathbed.”
“They can help you-”
“With what? Attempting to make this feeble body last a bit longer, as if it hasn’t passed its expiration date already? There is no escaping where I’m going. Everyone knows it and everyone is in denial because I’m just a reminder that they’re headed there too.”
The green grass before them darkened as clouds gave shelter from the sun. The wind picked up and a chill pierced through his jacket. His mother only wore a thin robe so he took of his jacket and offered it to her.
“Here, the last thing you need is to catch a cold. You must be freezing.”
“Keep it,” she said, waving the proffered clothing away, “I don’t have enough time to catch a cold.”
“Don’t say that,” he said. He held the bundled jacket out for her a moment longer before giving in and keeping it, tough he refused to put it back on.
The wind died down and the sun reappeared but dark clouds still hung in the sky. The sunlight felt warm and foreign on his face. He glanced over and saw she had closed her eyes and was enjoying its warmth.
Rain drops began pattering randomly about them.
“Let’s go inside, mom. It’s starting to rain.”
“Leave me be. I’ve always found the rain peaceful.”
The rain picked up and became a steady shower. They sat on the bench in silence. He looked over at his mother and saw her head tilted toward the sky with her eyes closed. Though he didn’t want to get wet, he couldn’t bring himself to leave her here, so he watched the rain soak into his jacket, felt it dampen his jeans. Water began to streak down his face as his hair grew over-saturated. Another chill ran through him. He glanced over at her again. She had opened her eyes.
She didn’t stir.
He knew then that she had been right.
He sat there until the nurses found them. Even then, he refused move out of the rain.