A smattering of rain, the driveway pavement glistening wet under darkening skies. Muggy but not hot. Mourning doves. My father said later he heard them cooing all day, but I only remember them in the early afternoon, around the time my mother died. Perhaps only then were we aware of the rain.
A couple of days earlier, my mother and I had gone out into the back-yard for a last walk around the garden. The spent roses climbing up the trellis, the rose o' sharon letting fall its pink blossoms, the two maples planted on either side of the garage, one when I was born, one when my brother was born. Tall, strong trees now, big enough for a boy's adventures. Then, of course, near the picket fence, tied to their stakes, the tomatoes, heavy, red, and sweet that year like no other.
At the end of her life my mother wasn't eating, but that day she took a tomato, whole, and ate it out of her hand, and noted quietly how delicious and juicy it was. 'The garden is lovely this year," she said. The walk lasted ten, fifteen minutes and that was all. We held her and laid her gently onto the blue couch in the living room, Bert the mutt at her feet, who would never sleep as long as she took those awful breaths. "Amazing how they know," Millie said when she dropped by afterwards with some food for 'the boys.'
When my mother died two days later with a final rasping heave, already cold at the feet and fingers, I swear there was rain, and a mourning dove, and a silence deeper than any I've heard since. But that was thirty-five years ago, another lifetime, as they say, and still I can't accept the fact that certain mysteries are insoluble.