Her kidneys were failing. I called her internist, whom I met once before. I asked what her chance of survival was. 10%, he said. I crumbled. So this is how it ends.
The next day was a blur. People called. Relatives drifted in. My father was a basket-case. We went to the funeral home, me clutching the outfit she was going to wear. I chose the dress she wore to my wedding. The color did not flatter, but I was sentimental. The casket was closed and she was cremated so the outfit didn't matter. No more clothes shopping. My aunt and I cleaned out her closet. I took many sweaters and some handbags, some of which I still use.
She had a full funeral mass, and afterward the immediate family went out for lunch. There was no burial service. The next day, my brothers and I picked up the urn and drove to the cemetery. After reading some poetry we'd selected, we left the urn by the graveside and drove away.
Last year, I went to the dermatologist on this date and had some suspicious spots biopsied. Two days later, twenty five years after we'd buried my mom, I found out that one of the spots contained leukemic cells. Another year, another nightmare.
Today I feel pretty good. I'm cancer-free and plan to stay that way.
You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now. Joan Baez