Debra and I would catch up almost every night over late decaf coffees and her fireplace until I just started calling her mom.
My other mom was deteriorating rapidly. I was still visiting her daily, but our meetings felt weirder and weirder and I kept thinking about Debra waiting for me out in the hallway. My mother could barely string together two words that connected to each other until one day more than a month after I first received the news from the Debra.
However, the morning when I was about to give up, she started making sense.
I walked into my mother’s cold room with a floppy cluster of violet tulips resting awkwardly under my arm. No better way to say your last goodbye to the woman who raised you than dead flowers.
I sat down next to her bed and was shocked to see her looking over at me with shockingly-lucid eyes.
A sly smile spread out across her weathered face.
“Hi John,” she said softly, the way I always remembered.
Tears started to form in my eyes. I hadn’t seen my mom look and interact like this in months.
“This is really pretty bad, isn’t it?” She asked.
I didn’t even know what to say. My brain was telling me this woman was a fraud, an imposter who made my entire life an elaborate lie, but my heart still had that unbreakable connection.
“It is. I have to ask you something though.”
“Are you my real mother?”
The deflated look that spread across my mother’s face got my heart racing.
“I was hoping I would never have to have this conversation with you. It is why we are in this pitiful hospital, floating in the middle of nowhere on an island.”
She gave a long hard blink and took a deep breath of air. She was starting to fade back into the darkness.
“Please, what do you mean?” I pleaded and moved closer to her.
Her eyes now locked to the ceiling, I feared I may have already lost her.
“What do you mean?”
“She kidnapped you, back when we lived in North Carolina. It’s why we left.”