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This article is taken from PN Review 196, Volume 37 Number 2, November - December 2010.

between places: if, then, essay Elizabeth Reeder

14 february, morning

If he can walk. If he can support his weight. If he can make it, unaided, to the toilet. If he can remember what it was like to be here, in his house, curious. If only his favourite cereal would taste like it used to. If he could do his taxes. The world is round and the sun wakes him, often colourful before it is bright. There isn’t a this or a that, assisted living or skilled nursing, it’s a continuum, they say. He slides to the floor, he says. He slides on the slippery floor, twelve times, maybe more. My mom is thin and her rotator cuff causes her problems; she shakes, nearly has blackouts, although she’s not fallen yet. He has to sit or lie on the floor until someone else can assist him. This is what we don’t want. Weak sun, winter over the lake, which changes daily to ice and to water and back to a state of slush. It undulates especially in the light at dawn. This is morning. The early start so we can make the rounds. I do not set an alarm, I am woken by worries and by this light. I keep the windows wide. I wish the air through vents was wind. Even with the window open the world outside and inside is still.

If then this. If all the doctors say his numbers are good, then why is he dying?

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