Part three: All her life, Mom had shared a bedroom so I move into the palliative care room to be by her side.
photo by ldyck
We are chatting up a storm, but then Mom grows quiet. "You know, Leanne," she finally says, "I've always loved you and now that I've gotten to know you as an adult, I really like you. You're a good friend, but you need to go back to BC. You need to be with Byron."
She wanted to protect me from the final ending. She wanted to protect me from her end. And there was something within me that wanted her to--that feared I wasn't strong enough to face it. And so I left.
The plane finally lands. It feels so good to be back in Byron's arms again. The minute we get home, I dial the phone.
"Mom's right here," Rick, my oldest brother, tells me.
"Honey Bunny, are you home?"
"Yes, Mom, I'm in BC. It was a long flight. The plane was delayed. Byron told me that I owe him one for making him wait."
"Is Byron there?"
I cup my hand over the receiver. "Byron," I call.
He emerges from wherever he's been hiding.
"Mom wants to talk with you."
I uncup the receiver. "Mom, he's right h--."
"Leanne," Rick interrupts me. "Leanne, Mom's sleeping."
A few days later, the phone rings, Byron answers. "Leanne, it's for you. It's Jim."
"Mother passed away, peacefully," Dad tells me. "She wasn't alone, Keith and I were by her side."
I see Dad and my youngest older brother sitting beside Mom's bed as she takes her last breath. I'm not imagining it. I’m recalling it—like I was there.
Dad breaks through my thoughts. "Thank you for being with Mom. I know that time was precious to her. Oh, yes, and dear, one more thing, could you please send me the tribute you wrote. Your mother and I want it to be read at her funeral. I love you, Kid. You know."
I drive my fingernails into the palm of my hand so I won't cry. "Yes, Dad, I know. And I love you too."
Byron is there for me when I hang up the phone.