I’m so sorry your mum is drifting away from you, a friend from Wellington emailed me last night.
When I read that I thought about when we first moved to the island, how Mom used to go swimming in February. A couple of years later she was as thin-blooded as any native South Floridian, but for a while she was apparently just like the tourists and would jump right in even though the water was only in the high sixties, pretty much hypothermia level. We had to stay on our towels and not move until she got out; we could always see her tiny dark head as she swam out. People walking by in their groovy seventies bikinis would shake their heads and tsk, “She’s going to FREEZE to DEATH in the water like that.”
Now I imagine her at the beach at home again, floating in the nearly waveless ocean, bathtub warm. Her eyes close against the gauzy winter sun, her limbs relax into the water. Her tanned, curly-headed little girls are safely on the sand, playing with their buckets and shovels, occasionally looking up to make sure they can still see her. Silver fish flicker and spin amongst the turtle grass beneath the surface.
Soon she will float—slowly, gently, easily–over the horizon, to wherever she is going next, where I hope it will be summer all the time because she still gets so cold. She isn’t going to come back to us, no matter how much we jump up and down on our towels yelling MOM! MOM! No matter how much chemotherapy they gave her, no matter what anyone wants or wishes. The sun shines, the gulls scream, and away she drifts.