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Mrs. Astor's Baby

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Annette had moved Brooke to Holly Hill, where she was sure Brooke wanted to be. Annette had brought the dogs and filled the house with flowers, upstairs and down. Tony visited, providing the hour’s notice required by Annette. He sat in his mother’s bedroom. Mostly, she slept. Tony could see that her eyes were sunken. Still, her makeup was done. The staff applied eye shadow and cleaned her breathing tube. “More blue,” she’d tell the nurses, one of her last phrases. Tony held her hand. Sometimes Brooke’s arm or a leg moved involuntarily. It was hard not to think it was willful, as if she were trying. Tony talked to her. And sometimes Brooke muttered something. “I love you,” Tony is sure she said, which filled him with emotion. It was a thing she sometimes said in her last year to people in her life.

Additional reporting by Andrea Fjeld, Michelle Dubert, Catherine Coreno, and Sadia Latifi.


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