Her breath comes heavy and labored. It’s the summer of 2011, but I feel like a ghost inhabiting a future self. Or maybe this is my future self, mimicking a person that no longer exists.
I’m playing an old arcade version of the football game Blitz in the lobby of a movie theater in Edgewater, Florida. The same one I played eleven years ago when I was a high school student. My mom has to settle herself down on the bench next to the game to catch her breath.
She has COPD and in another two years she will have trouble just walking into the movie theater. Soon we’re out of the lobby and in the theater. It’s 4:00 on Tuesday in the afternoon and we are the only ones there. We are watching a movie that is out of time. It’s the new Planet of the Apes movie, which is really based on number four of the old Planet of the Apes movies. I try to explain this all to my mom and I think she does a good job of pretending she understands. In the back of my mind, I notice that she’s still having trouble catching her breath.
Later that day, I’m reading Feeding the Ghost by Fred D’Aguiar, one of my old novels from college I had in storage. A week later I give it away. Little by little I’m learning to let go. Before I do, though, I write a little nothing review of it on goodreads.com–something to mark the passage of time. The only thing I can think to say about the book is that it’s poetic.
My mom and I are driving through Oak Hill now, a little town just south of Edgewater. Actually, I’m driving and she’s talking. My mom tells me that the town is so small that if I blink I might miss it. This too strikes me as poetic. The town is small and beautiful and she asks me to take her there again someday.
This is how the summer of 2011 goes.
A nothing summer really. I quit my job, play old arcade games, read books from my college years, and vaguely I sense that my mom might not have much time left.
Now two years in the future, I know this to be true.
One idle Tuesday with my mom. If I hadn’t looked closely, I might have missed it.
*If you like this essay, you might also like to read the short story “Sam and Ruddy” here: https://www.wattpad.com/413598810-pure-writerly-moments-the-best-of-goodreads-blog