On July 17, 1992, my mother sat alone at her dining room table with a cup of coffee and a pack of cigarettes. None of her five adult children where there; most of us were working. She may have felt physically off as she left the full cup of coffee and her pack of cigarettes. Maybe the walk down to Sam's Supermarket for a box of dry cat food for the felines she rescued as newborns in the back alley a few years ago, would make her feel better. But instead, while in the checkout line my mother had a massive heart attack at age 67. A dear old school friend, and owner of Sam's, Hy Miller, unlike myself, got to see the last living moments of my mother's life. He was such a sweet soul to have nearby her. I knew the EMT, as well, and he passed along to my family that my mother's last words were, "I'm a heavy smoker." He told us she was very frightened, went under, and back again, but could not breath on her own. It pained me to know how scared she was at her death. It still brings tears to my eyes. Years of cigarette addiction. Many times she tried to 'kick the habit.'
I wrote this short piece in a sort of rhopalic verse, that is where the numbers of syllables per word increases steadily on every line, like each drawing in of my mother's cigarettes added up to her, too early, death. Genetically, she could have lived longer for one sister died recently in her 90's and another is still well and alive in to her 80's.
In ritual ceremony smoke is often used. I love the aroma of these spiritual offerings.