But she answered the door in her baggy THERMAL LONG JOHNS clutching a teapot in one hand and an egg in the other. Not my definition of "ready" - which was what I had requested from her the night before. My mother-in-law is a rebel. She waved the egg at me with tight, angry fingers, "It's early!" she stated accusingly. Like I was responsible for rotating the earth too fast that day. I wasn't quite sure if she was going to throw the egg at me or cook it. Fortunately, she shuffled into the kitchen and dropped it into a pot of boiling water. She looked pissed, but last I checked, I was the one who skipped coffee that morning.
I may have sounded a little crabby when I told her she had ten minutes to get ready or she'd have to find herself a new ride to the hospital. I mentioned I skipped my coffee that morning, right? The cause of my stress was stemming from knowing I had to get back into town in time to take my kids to school. Her appointment was an hour away. Her daughter was meeting us there at 6:00am, traveling from the opposite direction. The plan was for me to drop her at the door of the medical center and head back home.
My pleading finally paid off and Lonna was ready in 15 minutes. I turned off her kettle and scooped her boiled egg into a cup. I grabbed a spoon from the kitchen drawer and told her, "You can eat this in the car, let's go."
It was too dark to eat the egg. It was a stupid idea. The egg clunked around in the little brown cup between the two front seats growing cold. I made small talk on the way over, we discussed her diabetes testing, her fluid retention, her muscle cramps, her yoga class she wants to go back to but can't, how much we love her doctors and how happy we are that she has them. We never talk about the fact that she is most certainly dying and doesn't have much longer. Sometimes I pick topics that get her all fired up, just to make sure there's still some fight left in her.
But as I dropped her off in front of the medical center, I couldn't ignore the obvious. I offered her the egg in a cup with a spoon and she actually reached out to take it. It was a stupid idea. And I finally saw her, how she must look to others. A tiny little asian woman with wispy thin hair and sunken cheeks and the most stubborn dark eyes. Reaching out to take the egg in a cup with a spoon from me as she clutched her overcoat around her always-cold failing body. I pulled the cup back.
"You can't take this," I told her, "it was a stupid idea." She stared at the cup for a moment before nodding her head in agreement. We shared a small laugh, and she pulled back to leave. She struggled with the car door for a moment and then crept her way through the sliding hospital doors. I watched her through the glass walls and she paused to wave good-bye and for a moment I pictured how crazy she would look if she was actually carrying a cup and an egg and a spoon down the hall of the medical center while waiting for her daughter.
It was a stupid idea.