It has occurred to me that I will never know the time at which my mother died.
She was always late—to church, to book club, to pick me up for piano lessons. Outwardly this perturbed me, but secretly it was a point of comfort, of endearing regularity: of never taking things quite too seriously. The hubbub in my life could wait—had to wait—for the light-blue minivan with its CD case strapped onto the driver’s side sun visor and its decade-old goldfish forgotten in the crevices beneath seatbelt buckles to come rolling up with its reliant, self-satisfied little hum.
This didn’t mean my mother was never regretful of her lateness. The bashful look of “Sorry” in her eyes as she would shift the car into Drive meant that I could never be mad at her for long. One particular July morning, as we rolled up 15 minutes late to a softball game, the tension between us was especially stiff. At this point in my paramount softball career, I was exasperated with our continual lateness. My mother, aware of this fact, had fervently tried to get me there on time, to no avail. She put the Honda in Park as I tightened my cleats with a grunt. As I reached for the door, scowling, she placed her hand on my arm worriedly and sincerely and said, “I’m sorry.” This uncharacteristic confrontation caught me off guard, and I quickly assured her, “Oh. It’s okay! Don’t worry about it.” My eyes darted away, cheeks coloring. I knew and she knew right then that she had not really said, “I’m sorry,” rather, “I love you,” and that I had said it back, and that we felt what it felt like to see one another for the first time in a long time. The tension between us gave way to an overwhelming sense of love, and sitting there with my mitt against my thigh, I felt as though I would never care for or be cared for by someone so gently or genuinely again in my life.
Her tendency to be late, I believe, is the reason for the alarm clock on her bedside table to be set a few minutes ahead—how many, I do not know. So while I saw in the corner of my eye that day as she gasped for air—her hand in my hand, her eyes now unrecognizable—that the time was 11:08 a.m., I’ll never truly know the time at which my mother died.
Rebecca Wilson is a third year student in Weinberg studying Environmental Science and Chemistry. You may often find her taking naps around campus, listening to bluegrass, or deep in thought about really nothing at all.