She has bilateral pneumonia and acute respiratory misery. The medical doctors clarify her irritation to me as a “cytokine storm” that’s ravaging her physique.
Her decline is steep, solely 17 days between prognosis and demise. Trying again at our messages over these 17 days, I’m struck by a reversal: I’m the one reaching out to her, with lengthy, frequent texts that try to attract out time.
I wish to be with you, holding your hand.
I do know that there’s hope, I’m praying so laborious.
Mother, I miss you. Are you there?
My mom’s responses, alternatively, contract. Our closing exchanges are like an aperture closing, the final window by which I can view her.
I do know, she writes at one level, so laborious.
My dad is discharged to battle at dwelling, and I nurse him by an iPad, maintaining his face close to mine as we sleep so I can hearken to his respiratory. When my mom dies, I don’t inform him at first, fearing he’ll observe. However as the times cross, his breath deepens, and the fevers that gripped his physique start to recede, and I say the phrases. He has been anticipating them, however nonetheless his face breaks in a means I hadn’t identified a face may.
I save my mom’s closing texts, however they maintain nothing of her voice: the scratchy Jewish Bronx accent, the heat, the descent of her tone when she knew our name needed to finish, so stuffed with longing and love: Okay, darling … speak to you quickly.
Jennifer Spitzer is an Affiliate Professor of English at Ithaca Faculty.