Anniversaries mark momentous events. They are supposed to be happy occasions. Some I would just rather forget.

My mother died four years ago this week. I can never seem to remember the exact date. It was the weekend after Presidents’ Day. I remember that because I flew to California that holiday weekend to see my mother for the last time.

She acted like it was the most natural thing to be staying in a hospital doped up on morphine. She looked so small in the hospital bed. Cancer had eaten away at the robust woman of my childhood memories. She seemed content, though. So I try to remember that.

She made only one request of me: help my father whenever he needed it.

I could stay for only a day. I was a psychiatry resident at the time and I needed to get back to the clinic and get things in order so I could take time off for the funeral. My father did not want my mother told that I was leaving. He didn’t want her to know. He knew she would be dead by the time I got back. I just kissed her cheek before I left. I never got to say goodbye.


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