March 10, 2010.
That was the moment I learned that my mother was going to die.
Of course I had always know that absent a drastic alteration of the normal laws of our universe that either we would die at the same moment or one of us would outlive the other. Unless I took up a career more dangerous than that of an academic the odds were that I would outlive my mother.
Intellectually understanding something and actually knowing it in your gut are two different things.
I remember being at the dinner table in my house when the phone rang. I remember hearing my father's voice giving me the news. I remember arriving at my parents' home and finding my father in an almost pitch black apartment, frantically looking through drawers and file folders for a mislaid hospital card. I have no memory of the hour and a half car drive that took place between those two moments of time.
My mother had made the decision not to undergo an operation that she was unlikely to survive. Without the operation she could not live. She had always been a fighter but she had no fear of death. She wanted a chance to say goodbye to those she had loved most and to those who loved her most. As much as it is possible for someone who has outlived most of her friends and much of her family she did so.
But she did not go swiftly into that good night. She had no fear of death but she had never given up on a fight in her life and she was not about to do so now. The doctors gave her days to live. She lived for more than a month.
So this is my season of sadness as each day brings me closer to the anniversary of her death.