My mother, in her last years of life, wore a black stocking cap. As her cancer progressed, the cap sunk lower and lower onto her head and against its shadow, the angles of her face sharpened and her eyes grew bigger with fear...and rebellion.
I hadn’t really thought back on the cap until after I had picked up one of my own at the local thrift store and caught my reflection in the mirror. Immediately, I searched my face for her, for the hollowness of her cheeks and the smudge of impending death under her eyes.
16-years after her cancer diagnosis, just a week shy of her 57th birthday, she died elegantly, peacefully, unwillingly, defiantly, eternally on a red leather couch in her living room. She eschewed the idea of a death bed.
Catching my mother’s face in my reflection gave me pause. Will it be me too? Is this hat the harbinger?
But then my daughter, all 6 years of her, scampered by. Maybe. Maybe not. No time to pause over the deaths that have ruled my life. V. It's about V.
Even so, I wear the hat to remind me to stare down death and give every bit of myself to our life.