I lurch into the swing of things. Today is a bad day, and I don't know if it's because it's just a bad day, or because, well, you know. I overeat. I get into a nasty argument with hubs. I can't get my head into my work. I skype my parents' home phone an hour before Mom comes home from work—why, I don't know, I know her schedule.
An hour later, I call again. Midnight my time, 4 pm her time. Mom answers. Her voice wavers, dipping like a fallen bird shot from the sky. Once she had been so buoyant, planning her retirement, holiday itineraries, gardening projects. The future unfolded only in wonderful possibility. That was her mistake: never let the gods know you are happy and thriving.
Now we are haunted by longing. In the face of a future that looks terrible from here, we babble platitudes, tried-maybe-not-true things like Be Strong and You Can Do It. As we say goodbye, we start to cry, me silently, her openly, gulping for air.
Staring at the black screen, I imagine her in her kitchen, haloed in Californian sunlight, with that new, frightening face of hers: soft, damp, vulnerable.