Lowrie gets a call from her brother regarding her mother in hospice.
As my eyes open to the gloomy yellow tint in my room peering through the blinders, that I constantly forget to change, I take notice that my room is a total mess; opened Amazon boxes I never bother to throw out, and clothes that I'd rather pick up from the floor than go to the closet and rummage through my endless collection of blouses and skanky miniskirts. The heat coming from what's-his-name in my bed is nice and toasty, his clothes scattered about in a fashion similar to my own. As my obnoxious third backup alarm goes off, a surge of adrenaline accompanied by a lack of sleep forces me to dance out of bed and throw on the closest work appropriate outfit I can find and start my journey to work.
"Lock the door and let yourself out." I shout to him hoping that, it being his first time at my apartment, he knows how to lock my door properly; it's a pretty intricate process. I walk past the dying plants and the pitcher of water, that I have never used, and tell myself that maybe one day I'll water those things. I'm too busy to do that now. As I drive to work, the growing traffic blends together to create the movements akin to a McDonald's drive-thru line. Located a section of cars ahead of mine, the flashing of blue and red lights towards the side of the road indicate that the road is filled with drivers just like me; late, super crazy late. Once I pass the mangled mess of crumpled cars on the side of the road, the traffic eases off and I can zing to work just fine. The flashing light of my cell phone notifications is cut short by my curiosity. I position my phone in front of my radio console with my arm stretched out so that I can see both my phone, and the road. I have seven missed calls and one voicemail from Vincent, my brother.
My car is not new enough nor does it have the bells and whistles to do Bluetooth or anything like that, so I guess I will just have to wait until work. I crawl through the streets at a speed that I'm sure my car is never designed to go to. I know I just have to get to work. I've been late multiple times this month and I know if I'm late again, some disciplinary action will be taken, at least, that's what Paul in accounting always tries to warn me about. I arrive at the work parking lot and flash my badge to the lot attendant so he can open the fencing. As I am sloppily putting the finishing touches on my outfit, I peer into my phone and play the most recent voicemail from Vincent.
"Hey Lowri...uh." His voice sounds raspy as if his vocal chords have been on overdrive for days. "Listen, uh, I know ever since what happened...happened, you don't wanna know about mom anymore but, she's-" his breath seems scattered and hesitant, as if it were not his idea to tell me this information. C'mon V, hurry up! "-she's got cancer Low, it's really bad, and I wouldn't have brought this up, but I was just at the hospital and they told me she has like...weeks, if not days, to live." There's an enormous pause afterwards, then his voice begins to clear up, "they transported her to hospice a month or two ago.......call me when you get this, I love you. Bye."
I stop in the parking lot and gaze at the building, its formidable structure and daunting exterior, it just seems too much. Too much, too big, too fast. The reflective matte painting of the building makes me wince on the inside. The little girl in me wants to scream; wants to run to my mother. I hate this feeling. I get another call; it's from V. I stare at the phone as my hand moves itself with the intention of answering, my hand tumbles to my ear and I begin to speak.
"Hey V." My usual happy disposition, the exact opposite of my current feeling, the world is getting heavier. I'm hoping that V can help.
"Hey Low, how are you?"
"I'm good, how... is she?" Even thinking the question makes me feel idiotic, never mind that I actually say it. We begin to exchange the most awkward conversation that I've ever had with my brother. The jovial atmosphere is gone, his kind voice usurped by his older brotherly tone.
"I'm on my way, V!" The words trickle out like a jet engine. He recites the address as if that were the only thing on his mind; like somehow, he was born to give me that address. I propel my body into my car and drive away. "Why didn't you tell me sooner!?" I demand apologetically. His silence astonishes me. I hear his heavy breathing, thinking of a valid reason, searching aimlessly for lost words that are just too skilled at hide-and-seek.
"I figured with the way things were left, you wouldn't care, but I figured.... you would at least want to know towards the end." The End. He says those two words so casually, so effortlessly.
"The way things were left? She stayed with those motherfuckers after I was ra... attacked, after they had the nerve to shun me, they even threatened to shun her! That's how things were left Vincent!"
"You were attacked, but don't take that out on the ba-" I stop him there. If I hear another word from him I am going to throw up.
"-I'm hanging up. Bye."
The car and I become one, I can feel the wind on my face and my legs working overtime to keep up the pace. I remember the address he gave me and plug it into my phone, so I can get there at the fastest possible time, considering all possible routes. The car skips through the street and lashes out at the pavement, I am on my way to my mother, and it is possibly the last time I will see her again. My foot never lets off the gas, police be damned.
I think back about the history my mother and I have, the church she's a part of and one that I was once a part of. I can't stand that part about the past; it never stays put, always coming into your brain whenever it decides it's a good time to fuck shit up. I gaze at the half empty, half full bottle of grey goose in the passenger seat, and decide that now is as good a time as any to take a swig of the good ol' swan. I grab the bottle, depress it up in the air, and take a giant gulp.
"Tchaikovsky, here's to you, amigo!!" The burning sensation in my throat sneaks its way into my lungs a little bit lower than I think it should be. Gulp after gulp, chug after chug, leaving nothing of the bottle left except the label and a slightly chewed bottle lid.
I somehow traverse the streets and locate myself as being in the vicinity of the hospice. I spring the car door open and breathe in the death of the scenery. My mother is in there. SHE is in THERE. I drop off the face of my car and my legs pick up the slack my spine is too weak to endure. I locate the front door, and erupt inside. The front clerk and I lock eyes from across the room as I saunter over to her, never breaking eye contact. "I, want to.... see my...fuckin umm...mom!" The demand slurs out of my mouth so easily I gasp, not really knowing that I said that. I believe I have said things a bit incoherently and aggressive, because a guard is coming to escort me out. I believe I can talk to him and work this whole thing out. Apparently, that is not going to happen because as he closes distance with me, he takes a firm grip of my arm and uses it to guide both of us out of the building.
"Stop, let her go!" A voice from beyond the front clerk bellows. It is a younger man in a lab type coat. Oh, he is quite the handsome man. His eyes are an evil shade of blue, and his brown hair reminds me of bicycle rust. In my alcoholic frenzy, I make a motion to the doctor person, that I would rather not describe. "Are you Lowrie, Vincent's sister?" He makes a hand signal to the security officer and the officer releases my arm. Jerk! I nod and boastfully announce that I am, in fact, that Lowrie.
He hands me a cup of coffee and gives me an endearing glimpse. We walk back to the remainder of the building, he is leading the way but constantly looking back at me and from what I can gather, leading me to my mother's room. The ground that he walks on seems so much faster than mine. He is seemingly floating through the hallway, so smooth and majestic. He points at a room that is labeled room number four. I gaze at his name tag, Dr. Azrael. Such an odd name. I'm sure his name means something, but I have no idea. I turn my head towards the center of the room as I enter. There she is. THERE SHE IS. The woman who gave birth to me and taught me and fed me and clothed me and cared for me, is now in a strange bed with little to nothing on the walls except for an Evelyn De Morgan painting, and on the juxtaposed wall, a cross of wood that appears to be held up by a string and a nail that have been dug into the wall and removed too many times for it to be sturdy.
"I take it to be your first time here? I have not seen you here before." I give a nod while gazing directly at my mother. Planting my vision on her, feelings from the past are growing and resurfacing. "Your mother is the strongest person I've ever seen."
"Wha....do you mean?" A hiccup interrupts my question, and he wafts the stench of the alcohol away and attempts to answer.
"When the Cancer Center gave us her results, we were shocked. Your mother has had cancer for a very long time. It seemed to be a form of the cancer that affected her brain only slightly, so it would not require treatment right away but it seems this form of the cancer has been removed and been resurfacing for years." He stops and notices me staring at her, how odd I must look; my work blouse with a dazzling maroon skirt, semi drunk and on the verge of tears. I veer my gaze towards him as he clears his throat for the fourth time. The chaotic white of his coat draws my attention, before he continues his assessment on my mother, who is still in this room, who is still dying, who will continue dying.
"She listed a church as her emergency contact, then the next contact is your brother Vincent. Nobody from the church came to support her but your brother showed up immediately when we called him." He pauses and looks over at me. My disoriented demeanor throws him off and he places the clipboard down on the desk closest to the door and begins to exit. "I'll leave you in peace. Just see yourself out whenever you like."
Now I'm alone with my mother. Alone.
"Hey mom." I have not said those words in a long time. I can feel the lump in my throat and the tears just on the cusp of my vision. "Why are you in here mom?" I set the cup of coffee down and pick up the clipboard to read it, I'm not doing a great job of it though. I can scarcely see the documents and even less understand the jargon, but I get the numbers. She raised me to appreciate the numbers and the hidden love inside literature and the appreciation of what they mean and how they make lives better. I was a straight A student; unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Looking at the numbers I see bank accounts, money loans and monthly transfers. I can't believe it, all of her money, all of her time, all of her unending patience. There is no way. I lightly toss the clipboard down on the ground with all of my might. All of her money was going to the church.
"YOU GAVE IT ALL TO THEM?" I murmur as loud as I could, the words that begin the floodgates to my tears. "WHY THE FUCK IS EVERYTHING GOING TO THEM! WHAT THE FUCK DID THEY DO! WHERE WERE THEY? WHERE ARE THEY NOW? GODDAMNIT MOM, WHY......why mom why?" My voice beginning to die, slowly devolving into trembling lips and quivering hands. I gaze up at the sky and point my finger at the invisible foe, he knows who I'm talking to. "YOU PERVESE MOTHER FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT! HOW FUCKING DARE YOU DO THIS TO HER! SHE ADOPTED ME, RAISED ME WHEN NOBODY ELSE WOULD; AND YOU GIVE HER CANCER? FUCK YOU! HOW MANY YEARS ARE YOU GONNA TORMENT HER?" I pick the clipboard back up, and look at times and dates. Configuring the math out was quick, it looks like precisely twenty-seven years, four months, and fourteen days. Today marks the fifteenth day; it is a Wednesday. "Why her? Why my mother? Why this long? Why can you not take anyone else? TAKE ME YOU LIMP DICK FAGGOT!" I spread my arms in the strongest show of denial I can assume. The tears splatter my shirt and rain down onto my skin. My mother's aura, her color, a dank shade of iridescent purple almost grayed out; faint but existing. I drop to my knees and cry. The room quiet, save for the spinning of an old fan. "You belong out in the world spreading your joy and your love mom. You gave everything you had for this church but look-" I motion to the empty space in the room, "-where are they now!?"
My mother does nothing, she can do nothing. My mother stood up for me when nobody else would, when nobody else cared to, when everyone else just dismissed me as another whore on the street, to discard as soon as they were done. My mother was different, my mother is different. I fall to my feet and attempt to recompose myself, failing miserably. I glance around and place my eyes on my mother, my anger slowly rising again. I find a punching target in a nearby desk. I focus all my hate and love and anger and fear and resentment into the punch that almost breaks my knuckles. The punch creates a loud boom. The force from my punch, echoes throughout the room. The room is different now. The lights flicker and the fan stops. I hear a plop from in the direction of the cross. The cross is now on the floor, unnaturally close to the clipboard. The once present reminder of my mother's love is now festering on the ground, almost broken, almost tangible, almost human. The room suddenly shifts, the room becomes four degrees colder. A monotone thought soars above my other thoughts, as a sinking realization sets in. I don't think that my mother is here. I mean here as in here, here.
The room continues to lower in degrees. The cold air grasps me; wraps me up in its essence. I cannot describe the feeling, sadness and love combine to form a being of unconditional warmth. I stand in the room speechless, with love I am silenced. I could for the first time, feel the love. Actually feel it. Not love song feel it, a deeper kind. The kind of love that is not felt, it's the love in the dark that you can just let go and really be loved. I take a look at my mother and crouch by her bed.
"Mom, you are going to a much better place, as you know, ya know." My words are calm as my voice breaks. I find myself crying and laughing with equal measure. "You're gonna get up there and be treated like royalty, you are so much better than me, better than this town, better than these people, better than this world. You belong amongst the stars and the heavens, and that's exactly where you're going." My hands are trembling as I touch her face. Caressing her cheeks, the cheeks that were ever-present in my life growing up. I pull her close to me and kiss the crown of her head. I wipe off the tears that fall onto her head, she should be perfectly presented as she would have wanted. I check under the pillow she isn't using and locate the Bible, that I knew would be there, and place it firmly on her breast with both hands clutching it. Perfect. I pick up the cross and place it above her bed with the nail that was on the ground. I give a gentle pull to make sure it's secure and firm.
"I love you mom." I give my mother one last parting glance. Her color is absolutely gold. An unfathomable gold; so vibrant in color and radiance it instills me with such joy. "I'll tell Vince." While I'm leaving the room, the room name presented next to the door, read my mother's name; Angela P. Faithe.
I give an immense exhale. I toss the coffee in the trash and walk out of the room. Each step I take, I can feel my mother. I can feel her presence, I can feel her support, I can feel her love. The doctor from before, notices my tears and starts to glide over to her room. I locate my car and somehow the coffee from earlier has helped. As I'm driving down the road back to my apartment, I notice the beautiful orange horizon. It's radiant and it's kind, it beckons me. The coffee is truly a life-saver. I'm sober for what feels like the first time in my entire life. I notice the universe and the love it can have, the endless love. I like this. I wave at pedestrians too far away to smell the alcohol, but not too far away as to avoid waving back. I approach my home and glare at the consuming green of the grass; the lovely color grabs my eyes in and makes me smile. As I stumble around a bit, I approach my apartment. I never noticed the stunning magenta of the door before. I touch the center of the door and hold it there for a moment, fixating my eyes on the dying flowers off to the side.
"Hey little guy, you're looking a bit like a sad sap." I make myself laugh too hard with that terrible joke. I grab hold of the water pitcher that is still there and I begin filling these plants with the water. I can immediately see the difference a little love can make. With a smile on my face I attempt to open the door, only to remember that one guy was here and must have actually locked the door when he left. I jingle my keys and open my door, peering into the chaotic mess of my apartment. That one guy's clothes are gone, completely; as if they were never really there. The romantic yellow aura of my apartment is homey and inviting. I just have to clean it up first. I bend down to grab an open box from Amazon and see old receipts littered about.
"Well...." I let out an exhale that comes from the innermost parts of my body, "one at a time I guess."