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An Excerpt from a Book

I dial the home of my parents and my mom picks up on only the second ring. She says hello, using my nickname, and immediately the sobs begin. I sob into the phone. I don’t speak. I just sob.

“I will be there in less than an hour,” she says. “I’ll be right there.”

“OK,” I choke.

She hangs up without asking what is wrong, what happened, what I want, if I’m OK. She asks nothing. She doesn’t need to. She knows. Like my colleagues who knew on that day I tried to tell them, my mother knows what pain sounds like. They knew too. Sometimes words are not necessary and it’s a relief.

I set the phone down and I open the closet, reach in for a bag. I pack it with things. I don’t even know what I am packing, but then again I do. It’s like there are two of me. One is taking care of business and the other is just crying and the one who is crying is not paying any attention to the one who is taking care of things, but the one taking care of things is watching the crying one to see where she goes because when she is done she’s going to go with her, and cry.

Fifty minutes later the buzzer goes off and I jump. That fucking buzzer again. It is my mother this time and I push the button that will let her in the front entrance and then I wait. I have changed into clean underclothes, jeans and a tee shirt. A bag is packed with miss-matched pajamas and another change of clothes and more underclothes and then I wonder if there is a second change of clothes in case I want to stay longer and I wonder if I packed my toothbrush too or if I only thought of it and never actually did it. The one who was taking care of things quit a little sooner than expected. I really don't know exactly what is in the bag. I really don’t care.

I pick up the bag and my purse. I put my hand on the door just as my mom knocks and when I open it she simply steps toward me, takes me into her arms. She doesn’t ask what happened or why I am so upset or what I want to do. She just hugs me and then pulls back, takes the bag and turns to walk out. How did she know I didn’t want to stay here, for her to stay with me like she did during those other days when I couldn’t believe what was happening and I could not eat or sleep or go to work, when she had to lie next to me in my bed? How did she know?

I step out behind her, close my apartment door, turn back to lock it and then continue to follow my mom, down the steps, out the front entrance and to her car. She opens the back door and puts my bag in while I open the front door and get into the passenger’s seat. A moment later she is behind the wheel starting the car and as she looks over her right shoulder to back out of the spot she takes me in and says softly, “I’m so sorry honey. I’m so sorry.”

“Thanks Mom,” I say, holding back tears. “Thanks for coming to get me.”

“You know if I could take this pain away from you and have it for myself I would. You know I would.”

“Yes Mom, I know,” I reply. She's quiet for a moment then as she gets the car in drive and steps gently on the gas to move down the parking lot.

“You’re going to be OK,” she says, then adds, “I made sauce.”

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