A Legacy of Falling

In the last few months of her life, when she could no longer get out of bed without falling, my mother told her nighttime caretaker that she had contemplated throwing herself from the subway platform into an oncoming train. The confession didn’t surprise me, just the scenario. I recalled that on a visit to her country house one August, as my babies napped upstairs, my mother, a couple of vodkas down, lifted her copy of the Hemlock Society manual from the shelf, to raise an argument for unhappiness. So I wasn’t shocked by my mother’s vision of suicide. Only that in her final stage she had shared it with a woman whose name she may not have remembered, who very likely told her not to worry, or maybe just held her gaze for the moment to pass. It was she who heard that last, frail exhalation against the rising tide of fluid that swamped my mother’s lungs, she who clasped her cooling hand as my mother sank into the undertow. At age twenty-three, after my mother had swapped college in the Midwest for a career of dance in New York City, her father leapt from the roof of his Chicago … Continue reading A Legacy of Falling