He must’ve sat outside his mother’s house for hours and cried. Lena had already fallen asleep by the time he was finished and it was beginning to grow dark. Hospice was doing a wonderful job, but even they had their limits. He looked up in the rear view mirror in time to see the ambulance arrive.
Hospice must’ve called them. The driver came up to his window and rapped on it lightly. “Can you move your car so we can back in?”
He nodded. “Sure. I was just leaving.”
He started the car and backed out into the street. Pulling forward, he watched as they backed the ambulance into the drive and then entered his mother’s house. He knew at that moment, it was only a matter of time.
He would find out tomorrow what room she was in at the hospital. Now, he just wanted to get his little sister away from there as quickly as possible. So he drove off. He didn’t look back once. He didn’t want to.
He drove into his driveway and was met by Sam. Dear Sam. If he only knew. All of them loved their mother.
Matt shrugged off the desire to cry. “Help me get Lena into the house.”
Sam nodded, and wordlessly removed the sleeping child from the car seat. He rushed her inside. Since he was a tot, there had been a nursery of sorts here. Of course, he was the youngest at that time, so he needed a crib.
He silently slipped up the stairs and deposited her in the crib. He turned to find Matt behind him. “Go get the others to make their way to the living room. I need to talk to all of you.”
He nodded and left the room. Matt watched him. This was going to be hard. Maybe a little too hard.
He swallowed a lump. Sam already knew something was up. Albert would pick it up from him. And the others would know from his own expression when he went down to talk to them.
It had to be done. He couldn’t put it off. They needed to know. They all needed to go see mama one more time. Just in case.
He knew, deep down, that Mama was dying. He knew she didn’t have long. She knew it and had let him know. He had wanted to deny it, but that was his selfishness talking.
When the ambulance arrived before he left, he knew. The hospice people had called for help. Mama was on her last mile. She might have a month, she might have a day.
He made his way down the stairs. His eyes met those of Marnie. As soon as she saw his expression, she gasped and ran into the living room. Rain emerged to meet him. “What is this about?”
He smiled sadly. “Mama.”
She blinked. “What about her?’
He shook his head. “I will tell everyone once I am inside the confines of the living room.”
She pushed her lip out in a pout and went back into the living room. He followed her into the room. The others met his gaze and knew it was time to sit down. Sam had kept his knowledge to himself, as had Albert. Marnie was sitting in the corner crying, Lady sat trying to console her.
Star looked at him. “So what is this about?”
Matt cleared his throat and started shakily. “As you all know, Mama called me to her home for a meeting. Sam already knows the result, he carried in Lena. We all know that mama has been failing, but I did not know just how much until I saw her today.
“I knew that her sight has been failing for some time. But today, I realized that she is now completely blind. She couldn’t even find my hand. Even more, she is at the weakest I have ever seen her. And thin. She has lost way too much weight.
“She isn’t going to live much longer. Marnie could see that in my eyes when she met me in the hall, and that is why she is crying. It is time we all went to see her and showed her that we still love her.
“I know that she has not been a huge chunk of your lives, but she deserves to hear your voices before she dies. She deserves to know that we all love her despite her absence from our lives. I have kept her up on how much you all have grown, but she needs to hear you.”
The phone rang. Star answered it. “Hello? Aunt Shasta? Yes. Yes. Matt has been filling us all in.”
Matt looked at her and she handed him the phone. He listened and his eyes began to tear up. It was all he could do to nod as she continued to talk to him. He hung up. “She’s on her way.” His statement was almost a whisper.
Star and Rain went to him. Rain looked into his eyes. “OH God! It is that bad!”
He nodded. They helped him to a chair and made sure he was able to get seated. Both remained next to him comforting him. When Shasta arrived, Rain went to let her in.
Shasta looked at Matt. “How much do you know about yur mother’s condition?”
Matt blinked back the tears. “She has only told me that she had hepatitis. today, she said she had the same stuff Johnny had. Whatever that was.”
Shasta gazed at him. “Matt, she has AIDS. It is relatively new here in the States, but is well known in Africa and other areas of the world. It was discovered about five, ten, years ago and it has been an epidemic among porn stars and drug users. They say there are others, but I am not so sure that is accurate.”
Rain looked at her aunt. “So what does this mean?”
Shasta looked around the room, the pain evident in her eyes. “It means that your mom does not have that long left.”
Matt looked up. “How long?”
Shasta frowned. “Could be a matter of days, or a matter of a few years. The doctors don’t know. No matter how long, I suggest you all get your visiting in before too much longer. Leave your animosity behind. Find a way to forgive her for what she may have done. Let her know that you have forgiven her.”