I took a deep breath and opened the car door. I didn’t want to go in. I wanted to remember her as she had been, not what I saw now. The doctors had said it wouldn’t be long; this was my only chance and I didn’t want to have any regrets. My hand trembled slightly as I reached for the lock.
Coward! The voice inside mocked me.
I’d had a relatively easy life, sheltered from a lot of the pain my friends had known. But now I had to step up to a difficult situation and I wasn’t sure I could.
“Nice day,” a nurse said as she opened her car door. She must have just ended her shift.
“Yes,” I agreed to be polite.
Could it really be a nice day when my mother is dying? The warmth of the sun on my face as I walked up to the nursing home assured me that life was still going on, no matter what was happening in my world. A tear threatened and I blinked.
“Hello, Becky,” the charge nurse greeted me as I walked by the nurse’s station. They knew me by name even though my mother had only been here for a little over a month. That was the blessings of a small town. I could recognize it even though I had left several years ago for bigger things.
I opened the door to my mother’s room. The quiet blanketed the room, making everyone talk in whispers. Dad sat in the chair slumped to the side. At first, I thought he was sleeping.
“You here for awhile?” he asked.
Dad left after a few minutes to get a break and a nap. He spent the rest of the time here unless my sister or I was with her. He couldn’t be getting much rest; I didn’t want to have to worry about him, too.
I looked at Mother. Her eyes were closed, most likely unconscious. Her skin was pale and cool to the touch. And yet, strangely, she still looked like my mother. Those hands laying on top of the blanket had held me as a child, had comforted me when I was sick.
“Mother, I’m here.” The sound of my own voice startled me as if it didn’t belong in the silence. I sat in the chair beside the bed and watched her.
I knew that most likely this would be the last time I saw her alive. The nurses had warned me that the end was near. Her skin was clammy, her breathing shallow. But her face was peaceful, as if she was already in a better place.
As I sat there, I thought about our times together. We had been close all of my life and since I became an adult, she had also been my friend. We talked on the phone every day, about the little things as well as major events. I relived many of my childhood memories as I watched her.
“Mom, I love you. You’ve taught me well, taught me how to be a kind and loving person. You taught me what was important in life, faith in God and a good family.” I paused, knowing she most likely couldn’t hear me but still needing to say it. “I hope I can be like you and someday be as good a mother as you.”
I sat there with her, sometimes in silence, sometimes talking about things that I never said to her but hoped she knew. When Dad returned and I left, I was exhausted but felt a peace from our one-sided conversation. I needed to say it even if she didn’t hear it; I had a feeling that she already knew. Mothers usually do.
The sun was high overhead and felt hot against my clothes. A nurse was getting out of her car to begin her shift.
“Nice day,” I said as I walked by.
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