The binoculars are on the windowsill so we can check on the progress.

Every few hours one of us looks. My mom is the one who gives the most updates. “I see three eggs!” she will tell us. Which is not any different from when she checked the birds’ nest earlier but I don’t say anything.

I haven’t checked in a while, and now I’m in the apartment alone. My grandmother is there in her bed in the living room too. But I don’t know how much she’s there now, so I keep reading my book and looking up whenever she takes a breath. She is prone on the bed with her head on pillows. She is looking out the window, but she can’t see the birds from her vantage point, and she can’t sit up to hold the binoculars now. She turns her head to look at me, and when she sees I am looking back, she winks. We keep thinking that maybe she is too far gone, then she sends a up a flare telling us, I am still here.

The days are split up into segments, and it is hot in the tiny apartment. It is my mom, my uncle, his wife, and me. Taking shifts on the sofa, looking out at the birds, doing puzzles, standing up, sitting down. Over and over again.

My uncle puts his hat on to go to work, and when he leans over my grandmother to say goodbye, she asks, “Where are you going?” He takes his hat off and sits down.

My mother informs us that the birds have hatched. We look and see their tiny orange beaks always pointing up, waiting for their parents to fly back and put something inside. Waiting for whatever will come next; mouths open, heads up.

People come in and out of the small stuffy apartment to talk to my grandmother lying on the bed in the middle of the room. Sometimes she looks at them and says something, other times she doesn’t. Time is going by too fast. It was just the other day I came into the room from the airport and she liked my dress, so I stood on a chair for her to see it. She asked me to paint her toenails but I waited too long, and now she wouldn’t know the difference.

She’s asking for “white fluffy cake,” so my aunt Sallyanne and I go to the grocery store to find some. Sallyanne says, “I think she should have whatever she wants.” We come back and we cut her a piece, which she eats a bite of and loves. But that is all she wants, just a bite.

More days go by. The birds get bigger in the nest and they are fluffy balls moving around, still waiting for food but getting too big to stay inside. They bump together and seem squished. Wanting more room but not able to go yet.

The time between her breaths is longer, and sometimes you hold your own breath waiting for the next one. Sometimes it seems like you’re waiting forever, but it always comes. You’re happy and sad when it does.

The time between her breaths is longer, and sometimes you hold your own breath waiting for the next one. Sometimes it seems like you’re waiting forever, but it always comes. You’re happy and sad when it does.

Finally my mom needs a break, so we make a plan to leave for the afternoon. I tell my gramma (who always hated to fly) that her bus is waiting for her and if she is ready she should go now. Katherine Hepburn and Barry White have died recently and I picture this strange trio together on the bus, telling stories and laughing. My uncle and Mom and I drive to his house an hour away to water the flowers and have a change of scenery. We aren’t there long before my aunt calls to say my gramma is gone. We all say she must have been waiting for us to leave — maybe we were holding on too tight.

A room has never been so full but felt so empty when we walk back into her apartment. Her body is there, but she is not. She looks small, old, and fragile. No words that seem like what she was.

I cut some pieces of her white-gray hair, and my aunt and I go into the bedroom when the ambulance comes and they put her in a body bag. I don’t want to see her in that bag; I won’t think about them zipping up the darkness around her.

A few days later we come back and go through a few things. It’s the day before my twenty-seventh birthday. I look at all the days on the calendar on the wall and feel completely separated from time. I watch my mom going through her mom’s things, and I wish we could all be somewhere else.

I remember the binoculars, still there on the windowsill. I pick them up and look to see how big the birds are, if they are still waiting for someone to come back and take care of them. But all I see is a nest, with nothing inside.

Emily Morris is a Super Admin in Boston. When her time comes, she would like to start all over again.

Claire Robertson is an illustrator in Melbourne, Australia. When her time comes, she wants to die in high-heeled sneakers eating a pavlova.