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  • Mom's favorite color was yellow. Not surprising, since she took sunshine with her wherever she went.

    She wanted her garden those last months -- after Dad died, she'd get up at 5, eat breakfast, work in the garden, come in for lunch at 11, rest, then go back out and work in the garden until supper at 5, and finally, if the days were long, she'd go back out and work until dark. But it was autumn, and the garden had to rest.

    That final autumn we fought, something we'd never done. I was angry with her for leaving, afraid for both of us. She was angry I was still healthy -- and afraid for both of us.

    Not long after she died, I read this: Dying is easy. It's living that's hard.

    Bullshit. Living is dying and dying is living, and neither is easy.

    I had to urge her to take the morphine when she was in too much pain. She'd look up at me and beg, "Don't make me an addict. Please don't make me an addict."

    Some days, I wanted to slam out the door, get in the car, drive until the gas ran out, and then start walking.

    My father had pleaded with me to talk about dying when he was sick. Coward that I am, I refused. I was too scared, and I thought talking about it would make it more real.

    He died anyway.

    So I talked with Mom about dying. The hereafter. People had frightened her with stories of what happened after death. I kept pointing out that everything we thought about dying was some person's opinion, only that. No one had come back to say for sure.

    O ye who spread the gospel of fear, I spit on your bones and grind them into earth.

    As she was dying, I picked up her Bible, which fell open to her favorite verse:
    For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

    It was what she had told me she thought death would be like. I read it out loud in the still room.

    For two or three weeks after she died, I would hear her get up at 5 and go out to the kitchen to read her Bible.

    And I found scraps of yellow everywhere.
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