To everyone death has a different smell and that's one thing that will always stay with me…the smell. It was so sharp, like a knife cutting into my nostrils and stabbing the scent into my memory and almost peppery, with very faint, sterile smell added into the mix. It made my nose itch and my throat gag as it invaded my senses. Through my life I'd always caught a faint whiff of it before it disappeared on the winds of change, but this one was staying, nothing was changing, only that soon it would be getting stronger.
For ten years I had a constant companion, even as I moved from place to place, as friends came and went. He stayed on my heels like a hungered wolf searching for his next meal, mouth snapping occasionally to remind me he's there. I could never see him fully though, only glimpses out the corner of my eye on occasion in the form of blood, weakness or tears. Often his near-touch would send chills down my spine, and his smell would turn my stomach, but at the same time he was really the only constant so I took comfort in him.
But ten years after our journey began my polite neglect of him turned to pure hate. The cold turned to a burning pool in my stomach that churned any food or drink and the smell came so often I found tears prickling my eyes. He had finally come for his meal. For the kind soul that had taken care of me as best as she could, who'd shown me strength, love, humility and compassion through her pain. All I could utter for a time was "Don't take my mother."
But I had no choice in who he took. I could only stand by as the light in my mother's eyes that once rivaled any sun began to diminish and her strength left her. I had to watch as she lay in her hospital bed, unconscious and mumbling incoherently. The tears I now saw were my own. There were times I could never see through them, but I still knew what was going on. He was still standing out of my peripheral vision, waiting.
One night, after I had sat down with my brother to try and relax, I felt a weight settle on my chest. A few moments later the woman who looked after my mother gave us the news came out.
"Your mother is dead."
Four words…four small words that apart mean little, but to a child trapped in the body of a young woman it was like a death sentence. I jumped up, my brother hot on my heels and I ran into her room. As much as I wanted to deny it, I couldn't. I could close my eyes, shake my head as hard as I want, but that smell was there, stronger then ever; prickling my nose and tearing my eyes.
She was gone and for now he was too.
I collapsed next to her still warm body, grasping her hand and crying as hard as I had when I had first found out the news ten years ago. I cried for her to come back, that I was sorry I hadn't been a better daughter and that I had let her die. I also cried that the only constant I had was now gone. I felt lost, what was I going to do now?
I didn't know. Even half a year later I still don't know. A darkness has covered my world that's invisible to any outside my mind, but nearly palpable to those who also lost this amazing woman. I've gone through her funeral, shedding few tears in the hopes of keeping strength for my father, family and friends. They needed me so I dug into the reserve of strength that both my mother and HE gave me. I made it through, but sadly with little memory. The cold turned heat had both left me in a daze and I could only watch as I moved about, helping friends and family and laughing along with them, but I can't remember any specific details.
I have no constant now other then occasionally the whiff of his smell. Each day is different then the one before. Often it leaves me strengthened, scared, laughing or crying. The feelings around me have changed, but I guess the death of a loved one can do that to you. My mother was my teacher, and he took her away from me. It was his job, but it still hurt, as childish as it may sound. But I never really did get the chance to be a normal child, so now I find myself sometimes acting as such. However I'm afraid that now after this there won't ever be a chance to have that again.