Monday, June 13, 2011

Heart Stroke

Every night, Sabine strokes my hair until she falls asleep. I usually have to peel her fingers from around a chunk of my locks after she's drifted off. As I was laying with her last night in the dark, the gesture reminded my of my mom. I can remember growing up and always feeling frustrated that she was so busy, such a whirlwind and so scattered that she rarely took the time to just sit or lay next to me. And if she did, it was for but a minute. Because she'd suddenly remember something she had to do and fly off.

But when my mom was well into cancer treatment (she was diagnosed with the stomach variety in September of 2002 and died almost a year later), she had no choice but to stop moving. I spent afternoons and entire nights next to her on the couch or in her bed. We would talk and then she would drift off to sleep. I would lay next to her without moving for fear that she'd wake and try to get up (because even when she was horribly sick and weighed close to eighty pounds, she'd find something she had to get done). Or really, I didn't move because I wanted that laying-next-to-her feeling to last forever but knew that it wasn't going to. Somehow I thought that the longer or more often I lay there, holding hands or touching shoulders, the feeling would be imprinted or permanent and I could keep it forever even though I couldn't keep her for much longer.

Closer to the end, she had to do overnight chemotherapy treatments at Cedars Sinai. She hated the thought of being in the big, cold hospital alone so I or my little sister would spend each night with her before having to go to work the next day. We'd sleep in a chair or on the floor with a blanket. It was excruciating but I couldn't be anywhere else if she was there. One evening I was watching her, and while most of the time I was in great denial about her leaving (I'm not religious but was sure there would be a miracle because if anyone deserved one, she did), on this day I could feel her slipping away no matter how tightly I held on.

And maybe she could tell. Because she looked at me and patted the tiny slice of mattress next to her, gesturing for me to climb into the twin-size hospital bed, too. I did. And I lay there for as long as I possibly could in the crook of her arm. While she stroked my hair for the longest time before she fell asleep.

Image via Observando


Miss A said...

Wow. This is so sad, yet its beautiful and I'm somehow jealous that you got a mom that you wanted to do those things with. I did, then she was gone (not dead, just gone out of my life). Then I got a second mom. I'm grateful, but I can not stand the touch of her skin. My dad either. I miss my biological mom's skin. Thank you for this post though it leaves me in tears.

Leslie said...

Oh my gosh, that made me tear up. So sad. Can't believe you had to go through that with your mother.
And I am like that too, with my daughters; always rushing, trying to do something. Rarely taking good quality time with them, just being in the moment. I always wonder if my girls notice me being like that with them. I'm sure they do, just like you did.

atreyuamor said...

I started to tear up as I read this. My Godmother passed away from breast cancer.


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