Monday, January 31, 2005

the pieces

"I am not sick, just broken." My mother says this to me over the phone yesterday. It is late afternoon and she is calling because my father has gotten the car stuck in a snowbank and is trying to shovel his way out. "You've got to come over and stop him." I hear her crying. "I have to remember, I am not sick, just broken, " she says again, and in her voice I hear the first timbre of emotional honesty that I have heard in a long time, the bald, raw admission of her state of being, of the rocks that she finds herself shipwrecked on. "I don't want to talk anymore. I just want to make a cup of tea. I'll see you soon."

By the time I get there, she is up and in the kitchen, fixing supper for my father and me again, not ordering us around or groaning, but pushing herself along the counters to get the napkins or the pepper herself. We sit at the table. She eats everything on her plate, swallowing it all. She tells us stories about Duxbury when she was growing up. She laughs, we laugh, and then she goes back to her room to eat her Jello and go to bed.

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