The balloons had begun to wither and shrivel over the television like a physical manifestation of a curdled wish. The shiny metallic things with inspirational phrases like “here’s to remission!” and “hope springs eternal!” were now illegible between the faux metallic folds as the orbs shrank toward an inevitable death to gravity and loss of gas. The banner on the wall with a similar phrase had cobwebs on a corner and sagged in the middle more noticeably. Hope had always been an abstract concept, but these cousins of birthday cakes and new years party hats never quite held it in their ballast or belly but the bright colors and thought behind had for a time lit the room like a shard cut as from a high floating ball of cheese as sun brought cheer in.
His mother had been bedridden for 15 years. This room was her universe for the most part, the dull metal ends of her home hospital bed the edges of a flat earth. She lay in a waterbed that was her world’s oceans now and its waves and tides. The cool water from a nurse from a spray bottle was both storm and rain amongst the general heat. The balloons shrug ever downward now, something still to their color and letterforms amongst it all.
Mother’s day brought family to this universe, conversation to her flat earth and seas. She would have sung and shouted, discussed ideas and verbally caressed memories in that air around her bed with the loving relatives if her body let her make words still. Her eyes spoke a thousand pages as she listened. This was speaking. Her son held her hand and talked of his time at college, telling all the details he could recall from that other world and city to share with her, to show something of a love beyond words and things and shiny balloons. She listened intently, eyes reacting every emotion her body took words from.
He found a tape in a box in a closet that last Mother’s day. The family gathered at the edge of her bed and listened to his brother as a child explain engines, speak of guns being like flowers (“but the opposite”). The crowd of faces flittered like so many flowers as the shy stuttering 7 year old’s voice spoke of a tube to a bloom, one of life and the other of its end. The tape had a woman singing at times. No one could figure out who she was. A long section was of her other son who again held her hand as he did with every visit from college as a young boy speaking of storms and rains and his toys. The woman at the aging tape’s end sang to the two boys, her voice sweet and at times cracking slightly. It had been so long no one could remember. Her son holding her hand felt the weight of the sag of those balloons, of the fade of their letters ; it was her voice, his mother. I lost it, let it slip from memory like something from a wallet. His eyes blue as July postcards began to rain from their edges. She looked at him and hers spoke a silent wish to not feel what she knew was racing through him.
It is ok. Time did this not you.
When she later passed away and the son tossed her ashes off the cliff she had spent young carefree days at with his father her ashes briefly formed a cloud, held in the air for a few seconds like so many connected gently flying bees in the cool ocean air.
(this prose is based on truths and my wonderful mother..miss her..Hi mom..happy almost Mother’s day..I love you)