13 things no one tells you about watching your mother die.
Written By: Daniele DeAngelis Hunter
1. She will be given six months to live when she’s diagnosed. You will
cry, and cry, and cry,
but six years of tears will tick by before she stops living
and starts dying.
And then you will not cry at all.
2. Your father will lose it, and your brother will lose it, and your family
will fall apart, and you will Keep It
because someone will have to. Everyone you know
will call you impossibly strong,
and you will feel like a fake
3. The times she tells you she loves you
will hurt you more than the times she tells you to go fuck yourself.
When she hates you, it is fleeting. When she hits you, she won’t have enough strength
to make it sting.
The times will come when she loves you, but you will know
each of those
could be the last.
4. You will expect your life to furcate into before and after.
You will be wrong.
Time won’t be that kind to you. Your life will become an exhaustively complicated
tangle of befores and afters,
firsts and lasts,
and you won’t know when they’re coming.
5. You won’t know when anything is coming.
6. You will ask how long, and your father will scream at you that you are killing her. That she could still make a full recovery.
He will force you to shut up, yell himself hoarse trying to convince you
that he is an optimist.
And from then on, you will be the parent.
You will call the shots.
You will watch the bridges burn.
7. You will expect to feel everything. But, mostly,
you will feel nothing at all.
8. She will make sounds you have never heard come from a human being
as she struggles to breathe, and the word struggle will never have felt more real to you,
and you will pray you never hear those sounds again. You will feel guilty,
dirty, impossible, raw,
for being able to stand by her bed, by her wires,
and take in air.
9. You will learn that death has a smell.
It will be scientifically proven, but that won’t make you feel better.
You will shower more showers than you ever have before. It will wash out
of your clothes, but it won’t wash out of your skin.
10. You will pray to her God,
even though you are an atheist.
You will want her to have somewhere nice to go.
Somewhere nicer than you can give her.
11. When you watch her in her hospital bed, talk to her doctors, take in her chaos,
your eyes will feel too big for your face. Like you can suddenly see
eleven times more than you could, more than your eyelashes can keep out.
Your eyes will feel too big for your face, and your grief will feel too big for your body, and your body will feel too big for your world.
You will go on seeing too much and feeling too much and being too little,
because there will be nothing else you can do.
12. You will learn that dying is not the same as death. You will learn that dying
takes too long,
but that it always
13. Watching the moment she dies will be the easiest part.
About the Author
Daniele DeAngelis Hunter is twenty-five years young, but her soul feels much older. An avid lover of colors and words, she graduated from Drew University with specialized honors in creative writing. She works in the publishing industry and lives in New Jersey with the wife she never thought she’d have. She has also been published under the name Daniele DeAngelis Walker.
Daniele’s work can be found in: The Nassau Review, Tell Us A Story, Halfway Down The Stairs, Juked, Jet Fuel Review, Burningword Literary Journal, and Crack the Spine. She is the fiction editor for The Birch Gang Review, and her attempted debut novel lives in the Drew University library.