He's learning firsthand things he's read about for years.
The simple, day-to-day stuff that he still does, even while fully, searingly aware that his mother lies in a hospital room knowing her end approaches. He's doing laundry as this is being written. He plans to shine his orthopedic shoes tonight and prepare his work lunches in advance (banana nut bread sandwiches with almond butter and honey, foiled, wrapped and frozen).
She's taking it fairly well, The Complete and Total Loser thinks. He can't help be a little surprised by this. Years ago, in the late 70s, the Loser worked at a movie theater and got his parents in to see the movie "All that Jazz," which is largely about death. It had music for Mom, nudity for Dad. Perfect! When they came home the Loser's mother cried at the Loser's perceived cruelty in getting her to see the film. A mean joke, she called it. Surely the Loser knew that she, now in her mid 40s, was depressed by the notion of her mortality.
He did not. Honest.
Now, beaten and dazed by time, the Loser's mother announces her coming death to the Loser and his brother as they enter her hospital room.
"I'm going to die," she said.
"So are we," the Loser said.
"Yeah," said his brother. "Everyone does."
"I won't be here tomorrow," she said.
"Oh? Where will you be?"
She pointed to the ceiling. "Up," she said, pointing heavenward. At this, she nodded righteously at the Loser, the family atheist.
"It's gonna get cold on the roof, Mother," said the Loser's brother.
(A side note: The Loser's brother, a winner, spent about 75 percent of the hour and a half they spent in the hospital room on his Blackberry, emailing workplace contacts, sending notes to his wife. In one way, this is fine; his mother -- obviously a bit preoccupied and hazed with illness -- didn't notice. But the Loser wondered if doing this won't come back to haunt his brother who, despite being an insurance lobbyist, does have some depth to him. At the same time, the Loser regretted slightly the fact that he is a smartphone holdout -- real contacts only for him! -- and had nothing better to do than avert his eyes while the cute Russian-born nurse checked his mother's tubes and things.)