“That corner over there. It’s drenched with shadows. Sadness seeps out, threatening to consume me in its lethargy. No matter how bright the rooms gets, the darkness is transfixed to that spot. Hovering there. Immobile. Ethereally reaching out. Almost…” I pause, knowing I sound crazy.
“Almost?” his voice is soft and gentle, but just the sound of someone else in this place with me is enough to startle.
Finally finding my voice again, I continue. “Almost as if she is still there. Sitting in that chair.” I know it’s my mind playing tricks on me, but that big, black, cushioned, lazy boy just fills my eyes, her frail body with the oxygen tube wrapped around her face looks at me. I can feel the tears welling up.
“You know she isn’t there, right?” He asks as I wipe a stray tear away.
“I know. But, this is where I am stuck. This moment. This place. Her there. Me here.” The tears start to flow a bit more freely. “I can’t move from here. Every night, it’s the same dream.” I muster my strength to delve into the recurring nightmare that has haunted me these last 4 months. I take a deep breath in and I think he mistakes it for me stopping.
“Go on, I’m here. Get it out.” His pushing is almost annoying, but I set it aside.
“It’s just before midnight. I hear her calling for me. I walk in and there she is, her arms reaching out toward me, begging me to come to her. I can’t. I’m frozen at the door. My body won’t move. My voice is stuck. I’m trapped. Just like she is. Except, her body is failing and there is nothing I can do to save her. She screams at me. Yelling about how I am a horrible daughter for letting this happen to her. How I could have… should have been there for her in that moment.”
The tightness in my chest is starting to hurt more than I can bear. My breathing and my tears rack my body to the where everything hurts and I can feel my legs begin to give way.
“Wendy, mom loved you. Mom…” his voice cracks. “Mom wouldn’t want you to live like this. It was bad enough living through it. Don’t carry this with you.” He steps over and puts his arm around me, pulling me into his chest. I collapse into him and the tears flow free.
“But…” I try to muster my voice.
“It’s ok. It’s safe here. Mom would want you to be happy for being the daughter who took care of her in her last year.” His voice was trying to soothe me, trying to help me through it. But would he? Would he if he knew what I had done?
“But I can’t.”
“Yes. You can. Concentrate on the good. Remember the fun times. Remember her in a better part of her life. Find that happy place.” He stroked my hair, reminding me of the way mom use to brush it.
“But you don’t understand.” I finally said, pushing back away from him. “I… I heard her call me that night. I was so tired. I was so angry. I was so done. I just wanted it to be over. So..” I mustered everything left inside of me. “So I ignored her until she stopped calling.”
My brother just looked at me. Horror and understanding colliding across his face.
“I don’t deserve happiness.” I said and fell to the floor.