ROUTINE

 By Mimi Toma

 

 

With the strand of hair hanging from

my mouth, holding onto the piece of

bread I just chewed. I think of

when mother would wrap her

hair in a scarf each morning. Still, her red

velvet hair would always make it into my

greek salad. It happened so often

that she would ask me to check before

I left for school.

But no matter how thoroughly

I searched through

the lettuce and feta cheese, I would not find

a single hair. Not until I was at school and

had already ingested half a strand of

her hair before slowly sliding it

out of my mouth. Still, she refused to let me

make my own lunch. It gave her a

reason to wake up each morning, to do

something useful. She desired the feeling

of being needed. That even though she was

sick, she could still follow through with

her routine. It reminded her of what

life was like before her muscle weakness

and gradual hair loss.

It came in waves.

First the shivering. Then

scrubbing her back when she needed a bath.

Then the hair loss.

The chemo continued to

weaken her. She would creep around the

house with three layers of every

piece of clothing on. Wrapped in her

soft warm blanket. Step by step until

she made it to the kitchen. Now, this sandwich.

Thrown together by some highschool student

trying to make some money working at

the shitty expensive cafe on campus.

I despise the comfort of knowing

I won’t have a piece of her

for lunch today.