The next day, Tammy got a ride after school with Phil to the vet clinic he worked at. He showed her how to clean the opossum’s crate and how and what to feed it. He let her take as many photos as she wanted on his phone, and brought her back to her apartment in time for her dinner.
That night, after his own dinner, Phil when to visit his mother. She was unconscious the entire visit, but he explained each photo that Tammy had taken, and told her that the opossum, whom Tammy had dubbed “Henry,” was getting better. “The little guy’s going to make it, mom,” he said. Before he left, he read a few pages from Jane Eyre, his mother’s favorite book.
This became the routine, and five days into it, Tammy asked how his mother was doing on the drive home. “Is she getting better like Henry?”
“Hard to say,” he told her.
“She may not pull out of this like we had hoped,” he said. Just last night her doctor had said if she didn’t turn the corner soon, they would need to start thinking about hospice.
“She might die?”
Tammy didn’t say anything more until Phil parked in front of her apartment building. “I’m sorry your mom’s not getting better,” she said.
Phil tried to smile. “Thanks,” he said.
“Say,” Tammy said, “do you think she’d like to see Henry? Maybe that would help her feel better? We could bring him to her.”
Phil thought about smuggling an opossum into the room his mother shared with another elderly woman who constantly watched TV. “I don’t know if I could get him into her room,” he said. “He would attract attention with his smell alone, not to mention the crate.”
“We’ll put him in a box with some smelly bananas to hide his smell, plus it’ll give him something to eat.”
“I’ll think about it,” he said.