Boost! Boost! Boost, boost, boost, boost… BOOOOOOOOOOST!
The focused, ferocious, rapid-fire salvo is followed by a pause, an indrawn breath, and finally by a siren-like, Oscar-worthy finish.
But it is not a show. It is not a moment of levity. Lois and I are not laughing.
I am confused, frustrated. This is new. She has never done this before and I am unsure at first if she’s joking, but she is not. This one word continues to escape her lips, but nothing more follows. Nothing at all. Instead, accompanying her unsettling chatter is a wholly vacant stare and a body otherwise utterly immobile in her bed. Not paralyzed, simply not moving.
Lois is stuck. Her mind has stopped in the middle of the road. It can see only one word. It can say only one word: boost. The word is boost, a meal replacement drink.
It happens only a few times in her last several days but for now she is stuck fast, mired deep like a snowbound car on a dark night road in the north. Help might be coming but it will be the snow that allows escape, or not.
It’s okay, Mom. We’ll be alright. Would you like some Boost to drink?
She sucks in a great gallon of air, as if ready to give it another whirl, to burst free from the cold, white drift in which she finds herself. Instead, surprising me this time, her breath escapes slowly, like mortally wounded highland pipes.
It is a small word this time, beaten down by the exhaustion of the past two or three minutes. It really was only two or three minutes but it felt like we – both of us – had been trapped for hours, for countless, crushing, soul-slitting hours.
Mom, I’ll be right back. I’ll get some from the fridge and we’ll see if that’s what you need.
I hear it breathed one more time as I go through the door: Boost.