I’m tired today. Tonight. Whatever. It is 4 am and I just woke mum to empty her waste bag. I stared at the lake while she was in the bathroom.
The lake was a calm mirror. Mist was on the surface where ducks were swimming. Pink ribbons from the sky were flung across the still dark top. I wanted to go outside and follow them. I wanted to get in the kayak and slide along the strands til I reached a different tomorrow. A place where I couldn’t hear mum whimpering in pain. A place where mum wasn’t being too stubborn to ask for help. A place where mum wasn’t pushing herself to be perfectly well and going too far. A place where mum wasn’t. But, our lake is small and the infinity I want doesn’t exist. Resigned, I watch the ribbons float away. I’m left tied to reality by taut cords of responsibility.
I arrange mum’s pillows in her bed. She wants a pain pill, I can do that for her. I tuck her in and put the oxygen tubes back around her ears. She says she hurts from all the exercise she had yesterday and tells me this is good. I smile at her and turn off her light. I stumble at the end of her bed in the predawn darkness. The tethers around her grip me tight and I don’t fall. I’m not allowed to. The next alarm will go off in a couple of hours. I need to be ready.