By Amanda Cleary
Artwork by Alli Rowe
Catherine sighed as she set her bags of groceries on her mother’s kitchen island. She set her keys down next to them with a jingle and started loading the fresh fruits and vegetables into the small refrigerator off to the side.
“Mom?” She called, glancing over at the living room where her mother usually chose to spend her day watching soap operas. Days of Our Lives was playing at the moment–a quiet hum of noise in an otherwise silent house.
Being in the house always brought Catherine a sense of nostalgia. She had grown up in the house–her name was etched upstairs on the side of her childhood room’s doorway. The fridge was the same one she had been opening for years, putting away groceries just as she was doing now.
“Mom?” She said again, louder this time.
It wasn’t unusual for her mother to not respond until Catherine called her name at least twice. Still, whenever she didn’t get an immediate response, concern couldn’t help blossoming within her. It hadn’t been too long ago when she had come home after a long day of work and found her mother writhing on the floor in her own drool, and the fear still remained.
Catherine repressed another sigh and paused her chore to walk the short distance to the living room. She saw her mother in the large chair her husband had bought shortly before his death, head to one side, eyes staring blankly ahead at the show.
Catherine waved a hand in front of her face, watching for the slight response that indicated that her mother was still in there somewhere. Her dark brown eyes slowly shifted to look at Catherine’s face, and she blinked, as if to communicate to her daughter that she was listening.
Catherine knelt beside her. “How was your day?”
“Did you enjoy your show?”
At the sudden reminder that she was supposed to be watching something, Catherine’s mother returned her gaze to the TV.
Catherine nodded slowly to herself. She was doing all that she could to slow her mother’s decline, but it was inevitable.
She took a deep breath and stood back up, walking back to the kitchen with heavy feet. It all seemed so fast, despite how many years her mother had lived after her diagnosis.
She tried not to think about it as she placed can after can of soup into the cupboards, but it was hard to think of anything else. Her arm slowed as she started to put the second bag of cans in the cupboard and she set it down with a thump.
Warm tears streamed down her cheeks.
It wasn’t that she feared her mother’s death, it was the lack thereof.
Why did the concept of her mother dying no longer phase her?
She sniffled and wiped her nose with her sleeve, continuing her work. When she was done, she glanced back at where her mother sat, staring at the screen.
Maybe it was because she had lost her mother a long time ago.