Twenty-One Years Later Still Holding On
By Don Iannone
Mom died twenty-one years ago today
in a cancer-stained single bed
in the Reverand Oral Roberts' City of Faith Medical Center
in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
How fitting we should die in single beds--
yet another reminder, the journey home
is ours to take alone.
Mom never intended to die at fifty-eight,
but I doubt she would be ready to go at any age.
Death was Mom's constant fear,
and her fear was the death of her.
I know, because she birthed her fear into me,
her first child, born on a cold snowy January 19, 1951.
I often think back upon the last time I saw Mom alive
in that single ghost-white-sheeted bed.
I knew she would die soon,
but she still clutched a single thread of hope
that her God would spare her saying good-bye
to all she loved and all she dreaded in her life.
Her voice was hollow and empty
when I kissed her good-bye for the last time.
She was ready for her pain to be over,
but like all of us, she clutched life in any form
rather than surrendering her pain,
no matter how unbearable.
Five days later,
they called me out of a business meeting
in downtown Cleveland,
to tell me that Mom had finally lost the fight.
A large part of my life flashed before me
as I tried to imagine life without the woman
who brought me into this world.
At her funeral, my sister Diana,
my brother Doug, and I encircled each other
and cried the heaviest tears
our lives had ever known.
The tears have finally dried,
but twenty-one years later,
there is still a piece of me
that holds onto a piece of her,
and in a strange sort of way,
I feel she holds onto a piece of me.