I read The Secret Garden to my mother as she died,
Words swimming through my tears across the page.
A girl again, she roamed once more the Yorkshire countryside,
Forgetting for a moment the indignities of age.
I held her hand; she held my gaze, uncertainty revealed,
Stretching out her few remaining breaths.
Reluctant to abandon life’s uneven battlefield,
She struggled to negotiate an armistice with death.
Then fact and fiction overlapped to frame our last farewell.
Though short of breath and out of time, she said, as darkness fell:
“Let’s have another chapter darling, can’t we? Just one more.
I think I’ve found the buried key that fits the hidden door.”
With that, she left. I closed the book, words catching in my throat:
“I’m sorry Mum, there is no more,” I said. “That’s all she wrote.”
© Andrew Ball