I was the one who found my mother. She had stayed home from work that day - which she did many days so it wasn't anything unusual - and I went to school.
I knew she was sick, but could never tell if it was her health habits (BAD) or her mental state (WORSE).
I remember at that time I was doing anything and everything to keep from going home. Working at the school supply store, volunteering, school paper, whatever. The people at school must have loved me because I was the first to volunteer for anything, no matter how mundane or unappealing.
That day I was helping the theatre group glue cotton onto plywood to mimic clouds for a backdrop. By the time I shuffled home it was dark. I opened the door and didn't immediately think anything was wrong. My mom was often passed out by that time, Sometimes I'd find the hot water on the stove where it'd boiled dry - her attempt to get healthy and drink tea.
Tonight there was nothing. Not the drone of the TV, not a single light on. I thought mabye she'd gone out - run out of cigarettes or booze. I went into the kicthen and heated up a frozen meal. Pouring some water I noticed her purse was still hung over the chair. It was kind of a joke between us, because she was forever losing her keys and purse - a bad habit that I've inherited.
I called out her name but there was no response. I went up to her room but she wasn't there. I checked in the bathroom, just in case, as once I'd found her passed out in the tub. Not there.
The microwave was beeping so I went downstairs again. I don't know why I wasn't worried - maybe she was outside - she liked to do that sometimes (often forgetting to bring her keys with her) to get some fresh air. I took my plate of food and went into the family room to watch some TV. Switching on the light I almost didn't notice her at first. She was on the side chair, a blanket covering the lower half of her body.
I called to her that I was wondering where she was, but she didn't respond. I moved towards her, intending to put her upright as her head had fallen to the side and she always worried me that she'd hurt herself or stop breathing like that, and noticed that her eyes were open.
It took me a minute to realize what was going on. She was looking at me, but not seeing me. Her skin was cold. As I was standing there, touching her head, the blanket fell off. She was naked from the waist down (I have no idea why) and she'd gone to the bathroom on the chair. I jumped back in disgust and her head snapped back. I screamed and the neighbors came running. I had the presence of mind to cover up her bottom half and from that moment on the rest is kind of a blur. Police, an ambulance, and a social worker.
All I remember is her hollow eyes, no light there. Wasn't really my mother although it looked like her.
I still get spooked that I was in the house for quite a while before I found her. If the dead watch us before they actually depart the world, what was she thinking? Did she find me ungrateful because I didn't worry right away? I wonder sometimes.
I hope I go quietly in my sleep. Finding a family member like that is not something I'd really wish on anyone.