Sadness filled the air, thick with the scent of mint. Anna’s comfort came from the fact that Thomas’ passing happened here at home. Though fitful and labored at times, he was released from this Earth in Grace. A translucent glow emanated from his angelic face. The room was still, and no one spoke.
Anna’s tears streamed down her face, staining the pillow as she lay next to her only son. In her mind’s eye, she could see him playing in the yard, healthy, vibrant, and full of life. Once his moaning stopped, she could feel every shallow breath he took. Each inhalation sent chills down her spine, as she knew they were one step closer to death. When his spirit left, there was stillness and an eerie peace. Nothing moved, only silence, save the Blue Jays chirping outside, sending Thomas on his way. A bright, sunny, ordinary new day, except it is easier to sob in the dark, among the shadows.
Anna came down the staircase, clutching Thomas’ wooden toy train engine. It was all she had to leave at his memorial. As she entered the threshold, Zeus, the huge, white Great Pyrenees, stirred slightly from his mid-morning nap.
“Zeus, you are always sleeping. What if a prowler came in, what would you do? Nuzzle them and beg for a cookie?”
In a curio case, tucked among the figures was her great grandmother’s Victorian Tear Catchers. Delicate, gold decorated, glass, corked works of art that grieving mourners used to collect their tears. Kept as a remembrance of the departed loved one, widows would sprinkle the tears on the gravesite at the one-year anniversary of the death. Her great grandmother did this to signify one year of mourning, it was tradition. Any contents evaporated long ago, yet their meaning is clear. Heartache, loss, and pain happen. This is the reality, not a storybook ending.
Anna was unsure if she would continue the tradition. Her tears transmuted to anger, emotion, vacillating at times between rage and feeling crazy. Was it her imagination born from grief, or was this a horrible, atrocious nightmare? At times, she felt the paranoid sting of a presence of unseen eyes and ears watching and listening to her every move. Was she truly going mad, or was there a gloomy, obscure, dark force at play? Her thoughts turned to a movie she saw in her youth, Gaslight. It is possible, could someone think she knew something enough to kill an innocent child and gaslight her?
Life up to this moment was a rapid jigsaw puzzle of misinformation, unanswered questions, and uncertainty. Thomas’s hospitalization was brief, almost too brief. The doctor’s kept saying they are sorry, we did all we could, there is nothing more. She was incredulous. People come to the hospital to get fixed, healed, or cured. They do not come to catch an infection and die.
Where she was going next, she did not know. Anna only knew she was being pulled to expose the travesty, injustice, and lies that placed patients in the crosshairs of death.