“but the thing is,” she said.
then she fell back against the pillows and died.
she was always leaving tasks unfinished (taxes, personal correspondences, property transactions, the dishes), so it was no surprise that she couldn’t find the strength to finish her final sentence. but this was different; worse, somehow. we could file the taxes, send off the letters, sign the dotted lines, wash the pots and pans, but there was no way we would ever be able to finish her sentence.
the thing is… what? what is the thing?! we went half crazy trying to imagine how she intended to end it:
the thing is i’m not who you think i am.
the thing is i had a secret bastard child back in the 60s.
the thing is i put the money in a jar and buried it in a coffee tin beneath the sycamore.
the thing is i’ve never known how to tell you i love you.
we are a forgiving people, my family. we forgave her everything else — the drinking, the lies, her penchant for selling priceless family heirlooms in the bargain bin at garage sales — but we would never quite get over the fact that she revealed there was a Thing and then died before she could tell us what, exactly, it was.