She had two options that she could figure. She looked at him as he slept in that bed she got him from the Salvation Army. The corners of his lips turned up when he was relaxed...when his face could feel nothing. This was the first thing she noticed about him while running her fingers across the contours of his cheeks, moments after giving birth to him. He was a fourth grader now. He was a really good kid. She believed he was no reflection of her. She believed he was the very character of God, rising with Him with the sun. She wouldn't soon deserve him. She couldn't. She was only mistakes. She had to choose between the sickness and the sanity of her son.
His father was a married man. She didn't even know his name, but
he wore a wedding ring opposite hand of his 1977 class ring. He
would come and give her money and she would make believe love for
him. She didn't even know how long this went on for, but knew he
had a disgusting smell to him. His hair smelled like old sweat.
His beard smelled of garbage. He was always sweating on her. He
would get up when the love faded and leave the hotel room smiling
and forget to say goodbye every time. She didn't care, she
desired him dead when he used words. She desired him dead anyway.
She didn't even tell him he had a son, she just ignored his calls
and got a job at a supermarket bagging groceries.
Her two options now? Take her life or let it happen. Just let the cancer slowly eat her away while he watched from just below the bed rails. Using her head, she could only come to one logical decision. She had a sister who was much better off than her and loved her son as if it were her own. She had a big house with an extra room and two kids the same age. She had always looked at her child with this knowing squint and a frown, fully expexcting to take over the role of mom one day. It was this way even before the dark parts took over inside of her cells. She always knew the truth about her little sister's inability to get it right. If she just said goodbye now, her son would be OK. But everything that isn't supposed to feel logical told her to stay. Every moment would be worth a brick of gold to both of them. She would give him the world even as a skeleton.
She had this choice to make. She had a tube down her throat that would not let her speak to him. At night, he would crawl up on the bed and they would take turns writing things on each other's backs and guessing what the other had said. This night was the THE NIGHT. She had to make a decision before she couldn't anymore. She had to give him something. She couldn't lie anymore or wait for some miracle to happen. This was her life. His life was about to change. Soon enough, she wouldn't know his face or even be able to see it. Soon enough he would be dead to her mind...a thought that was more torturous than anything she could think of. She knew that he knew she was going away. He just couldn't say it.
She flicked his ear to wake him. He stirred and she knew he was listening. He always seemed to be listening. She began drawing on his back. Her hands shook with every letter and she could feel his body tremble with every completed word. Her tears made it hard to keep going. His tears made it hard to feel what she was trying to tell him, but he knew. Her hand stopped at his lower back and he felt her squeeze his small frame against her even smaller one. He braced himself and closed his eyes to think about when she was well. He went to this thought every time he was scared. He went to the time he fell out of the tree in front of his house and she she rocked him back and forth like the wind as it blew storm clouds through the trees. He remembered when she held him when his friend was hit by a car and killed. He didn't understand death until he saw his friend lifeless in a coffin. Then he only knew death as just being plastic looking.
He closed off the entire world, even when he felt the gasp of his
mother's chest and the alarm sounding on the machine next to her.
He was definitely crying, but could and would only allow memories
of laughter to flood his brain. He would never see the tube in
her hand. He would never see all that she sacrificed for him. He
would never understand that Salvation Army Bed that took the last
of the money she had made with a legitimate job before she
started to get sick.
He would never know all that her life had produced, but he would never forget what she was to him.