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|