In the end, you think about the many times she danced through the living room holding the cat, with those tiny cat antlers it used to hate. The times she dressed at the vanity in her room draping jewelry on and your eight-year-old eyes thought it was magic. You dreamed she was beautiful. You wished years away so you could grow fast forward. You asked her to twirl. She did and spun you around. She held your hand and said I love you. She gave you a kiss before heading off to the dance with a friend. It fills you with an overwhelming sad stone in your chest you think you may drown in your tears. You miss her even before she is gone and then you hope a moment and you recall that she said just last night: “You are the best daughter. I could never ask for a better daughter. You have been so good to me. I am sorry I have been so much trouble.” You whisper: “You were never any trouble. You are the best Mom I could ever ask for and I love you,” and what you meant to say when all those nurses were crowded round with tubes and masks and questions was: “I would pick you every time and I remember every lesson you ever taught me, every time I brought home an A and you praised it, every byline you were so proud of when you read my name. I forget the arguments. I forget how mad you were last month when I forgot to call.
You see someone at emergency looking like death is near and they are passing and then two hours later that woman gets up and walks away with her daughter smiling. You think this is some cruel joke. Two weeks ago your Mom looked better than her. She was all dressed up, surely she has more to give. How is this possible? Who chooses? Why? Anger courses through your veins. You feel ashamed because she taught you better than that. But still.