rain, chalk and supernova

This rain is not enough to quench these parched lips, wash away the sorrow, ease the furrow in my brow. The thought of her gone—truly gone—haunts me with melancholic arcs, not so much for myself as for those who had to watch her struggle, then take her final breath.

Her place on the couch is hollow now, and I imagine her bed made smooth but without linens, slippers still tucked neatly beneath where her thin legs draped, their skin, like the rest of her, wrinkled like crepe.

A shell of a woman, she had held the sound of motherly seas in her voice, the way lapping waves mesmerize, hypnotize, and we clasped her diminishing form in ours like a burnished and beloved stone, put her in our pockets and carried her along.

Some ashes and a lock of white hair is all that will be left of the physical her, ashes that will look, sound, feel and taste no different than Dad’s. Like his, we’ll cast them back to earth and ocean to become something new.

I’ll still see her every day when I look into my son Calvin’s face. Hers is somewhere there; I catch fleeting glimpses. And when I do, I remember her great sacrifice, her many years swollen with child and laden with dirty cloth diapers for six, shopping and cooking and ironing and cleaning for eight, taking little to nothing for herself, no cup of coffee or glass of wine with a friend, no solitary stroll in the woods to escape.

This rain reminds me of when she’d cry in the shower; she told me it’s what she did to hide her despair. But it seemed she’d forgotten all that, the Alzheimer’s dissolving her memory and her bones into chalk, which if scrawled on a rainy sidewalk washes into one big galaxy of color, like some celestial body, or perhaps a glorious supernova outshining everything else.

Composite view of the Crab nebula, an iconic supernova remnant. www.jpl.nasa.gov

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