When mum called to tell me, I was on a bus. I asked if she was okay. ‘No,’ she said. As the night scene of Sydney’s Inner West blurred past I held on to the pole until I reached my brother’s stop. ‘How bad is it?’ I asked, expecting something treatable, scary, but probably not terminal. I googled from my phone: what does the pancreas even do? My boyfriend texted his mum to tell her how lucky he was to have her. That was the end of our relationship. It was worse for my brother. His wife left him. ‘Life is short,’ she said.
When my mother was sick I bought her a pair of pyjamas because I knew I’d get them after she died. I wanted her to have special ones but it felt efficient to buy her a pair I liked as well. I bought them from Peter Alexander and they were leopard print. When I gave them to her, she turned her nose up at them and looked at my sister sardonically. My sister went out and bought her a floral pair from Sussan. When Mum moved into the hospital they dressed her from the closet of pyjamas left behind by previous patients. A rotating wardrobe of pink cotton nighties she would’ve hated. I kept the floral ones from Sussan. But I never wear them.
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