You held up that one half of one grape tomato on your fork, little hand shaking, little voice shaking, asking, pleading whether or not you had to eat it. Yes. Yes you have to eat it! Demand in my voice. Declaration. Staking a claim, thrusting that stake into the flesh of the earth. “You have a future!” I am your mother and I am claiming a future for you, I am declaring you a child who will live…if I have anything to do with it. Eat your vegetables!
But I had nothing to do with it. That was your last real meal and I forced you to eat a tomato. I will never forget your face, sweet eyes full of terror and desperation to somehow get out of eating that wretched tomato. You wanted pizza. But I had to say No. No. No, because the task at hand was to starve your cells of glucose all those starches of crust would provide. No, your cells must wither and yearn until the next day’s glucose injection for the PET scan when they would slurp up the energy giving glucose, powering their metabolic processes, the glow of their fervor lighting up on the screen. Those most hungry but with no business living would show up in yellows and oranges and reds, evidences of the throbbing, tenacious life of cancer, cell by cell by cell.
One year ago on a Monday night in Seattle, in our sanctuary away from home, in our Ron Don apartment, I could never have imagined you were eating your last meal. I could never have imagined that just two weeks later you would no longer speak, the ferocious cancer cells eating away at your brain, forever closing your mouth, forever silencing you dear little voice. As I turned you on your side to clean you up, the blades of your hip bones cuts sharp angles, your legs so thin, your frail left arm jutting up into the air as the pain coursed through you at even my most gentle touch.
I regret that tomato. I so wish I could go back to that night and say, no, no, sweet girl. You do not have to eat the tomato.
I sit in the light of a single lamp. The rain falling against the windows. Alone. No one left in this vast house but me. Allistaire dead. Sten has left. Half of Solveig.
The rain has turned to ice and beats against the windows. A flash of lightning. Thunder.
The storm passes over. Quiet except for the faint ring of the wind chimes. A sound present before these children. A child gone, a husband gone, a child absent. Still the same sweet tones move with the wind in the night air.