By the time the doctors found the cancer, it was already widespread so the attempts at chemo and radiation proved to be futile. They gave her four to six months. We had no family to speak of. Mom’s parents were long dead, having been taken from this earth by a crackhead mugger. I had no aunts and uncles on my mom’s side, as she was an only child. My parents divorced when I was six and my dad lived a couple states away along with his sister and my Grandma Frankie—that’s short for Francesa. My mom had lots of friends though, and they took turns coming in and helping out, along with hospice, but mostly my mom’s best friend, Suki,.
I felt so helpless as I sat by her side and watched her hair fall out, as she disintegrated in her own bed, as her body grew weaker and more frail by the day, then finally as she silently slipped out of consciousness. Her already labored breath would catch, and her chest would heave when it became too painful even to breathe. I slept when she finally died after just three months, and I was glad for it. I wouldn’t want to have watched her take her last breath.
Upon waking that morning, I went downstairs to find Suki and an odd pair of undertakers in my living room. The first undertaker was just like the ones you see in the movies. His name was George and he was very tall and pale with dark hair and a deep voice. The other’s name was George too. I know, too weird. He was the comic relief. It was almost like watching a vaudeville act instead of the men who were going to take my dead mom’s body out of my house forever.
I stared, numb and feeling as if I was watching a movie instead of standing there in my own life. Suki paid attention as the undertakers delivered their monologues and then went about their duties. I stood there for a long time and Suki just let me, staying quiet, occasionally walking by and patting my arm or rubbing my shoulder between phone calls and cleaning and such. I finally sat down when the undertakers rolled my mom out on a stretcher in a big black plastic bag with a zipper down the front. They handed Suki some pamphlets as they left. I went to the door, peeked out the peephole and ran my hand against the smooth oak. I watched them load up the plastic bag that held my mom’s body. I watched the Georges climb into their death mobile and drive away, then went to my mom’s room. The air was suffocating and musty. The scent of decay lingered.