“HOOOOOOOOOOONK!” droned the car behind Marie’s Nissan Sentra.
She’d been so lost in her thoughts that she hadn’t noticed that the light was green. She drove on through the intersection, one step closer to the place she had feared for two months. Deep down she’d known this journey was necessary. Her brain was still adjusting to the reality that she now faced. Her mother was not dead, but she was dying. Her mother lived, but she did not recognize her.
It had just been the two of them. Marie and Sophia. Marie’s father had died of a heart attack one night while she was away at college. In their grief, they found refuge in each other. Marie left Southern Methodist University and returned home to attend Oklahoma University. They shared a bed together. They sipped tea together most mornings. They took in a cat and called him Toonces. They grieved together.
The first time Sophia failed to recognize Marie, she dismissed it. Just a little glitch. The next time, she took her to see a neurologist. Within a month, Marie had to take her to a nursing home. And within two months, Sophia didn’t recognize her own daughter at all.
Marie paid one last visit to The Gardens and drove home. On that day, something broke in her. The next Monday, she told her coworkers (and Toonces) that her mother had died in her sleep.
“Miss Bellman? Thank God you made it. You’d better come with me,” said the plump, African-American nurse upon Marie’s arrival.
It was not a long walk to her mother’s room, but the hallway seemed to stretch out before her, warping time and space. Reality lay and the end of this hall. She felt as if she were losing her balance.
“Your mother has very little time left. She might not make it till this evening. She has a visitor in with her right now. He’s been the only one for these last few weeks. Funny little fellow. I just assumed he was a friend of the family. Mr. Bronson? Marie’s here.”