Many of you already know what that feels like. It’s a reckoning with your own mortality. For me it’s neither lonely nor sad—just an undeniable marker of the passage of time. Time spent. Time remaining. And how precious every moment is.
My mother in her final days had the great gift of saying goodbye. I flew to Milwaukee three times in one week to be with her at her home. I could feel the end was near. She’d become not only weak but weary and resigned.
At one point, as we sat in the overheated little room with the big-screen TV watching The Bold and the Beautiful, The Young and the Restless, and the game-show channel’s incessant run of Family Feud, I asked her: “Do you think you’re going to make it through this?”
She slowly shook her head.
Shortly afterward, her caregiver for the past 14 years, Nurse Judy, came into the crowded room that was made even more crowded by the never-used exercise bike and the brown leather recliner my mother had always maintained as a personal throne. Their eyes met, and my mother reached for her and started to cry. I felt they were tears of gratitude, though she never said a word. She rarely showed emotion.
We had a complicated relationship, my mother and I—this I know for sure. Now that she’s gone, I understand it more clearly.
When I left her on my second visit of the week, I was certain it was the last time I’d see her. Still, I could think