A second earlier Mom had been at my bedside, saying my name. “Anne?” she’d whispered softly. My lips seemed to be glued together and I worried I wasn’t responding quickly enough. I forced the sound to emerge from my throat and it did, but it was low and mumbled. “Mmmmmooommm?”, I finally uttered, but I was too late. Mom was gone, if she’d been there at all. I knew I was now awake.
My body was heavy from sleep, yet I felt the need to know the time. Without moving anything but my arm, I fumbled for my Iphone on my nightstand. Clicking it on I read the display. 1:47am. “Ten minutes to two” I said articulately inside my mind. I willed myself to remember the time before I dropped off to sleep. I needed to know the exact time Mom had been at my bedside. Just in case it mattered.
We’d gone to visit her thirteen hours earlier, finding her again in the lobby of the pleasant assisted living home where she’s lived for the last four months. Unlike my last visit, she did not greet me with a look of recognition this time, but sweetly accepted my hug and nodded in agreement as I introduced her grandson Paul and her son-in-law Eric. I thought of the many times I use others’ names on these visits, wishing someone would say my own name in hopes it’ll click with her.
We moved to her private room and I had gone in, again commenting upon how pretty it appeared. Mom’s cranberry glass adorned the window sill and various pieces were placed on tables around the room. I made note of how many of them had tiny bouquets of flowers inside. The cranberry glass had never housed arrangements when it was at home. Instead the pieces had been happy to glisten in the sun of the front window panes, beautiful in their own right, not needing flowers for enhancement.
I sat and visited with Mom and I talked, a million words a minute, or so it seemed. I strive to make her happy and it works every time. She matches my own smile, her eyes brighten. It’s remarkable to me how masterful I have become at small talk. I chuckle over this to myself every so often. Dad had loved that particular blog post I’d written a few years back about my hatred of small talk. He always loved my “globs” as he called them. Each time we visited he’d smirk, playing dumb as the children tried to teach him the correct pronunciation of the word, blog. These are the moments I hold onto, the memories that no one could ever discolor. He was proud of the writer I’d always been. “A writer, just like your mother”, he’d say. He was just as thrilled to hear I was returning to the stage to star in another musical. My number one fans, my parents always were. My greatest allies. Oh how I miss them. But, the love from parents is eternal. It’s a beautiful thing to have faith that although the clouds sometimes darken above my head, the sun will soon burn through and bring warmth again.
It’s a beautiful thing to know who you are, what you are made of, and where you are meant to be. Some nights I am meant to be here, in bed, paralyzed with sorrow after another death of a young person from my school's community, trying desperately not to cry out to a Mom who is no longer able to speak my name with recognition, and a Dad who six months ago would have openly shared my grief. Some nights I am meant to heal myself through the tapping of my fingers upon the keyboard, trusting in the memory of my parents’ unending support of my goals and dreams, of their unconditional love, of their true understanding of my place in this world, whether on stage, online, in the classroom, in the arms of my husband and children, or on my knees giving thanks to He who sustains me.
My body is heavy once again, in need of sleep. But as I let my head fall to the pillow, my arm is outstretched beyond the blanket. Take my hand, Lord. Cradle it within Your own. I have nothing but hours of slumber to spend with You. Tell my Dad I miss him. Tomorrow I’ll return to visit you, Mom. And we’ll smile at one another and I’ll tell you my name. And although you’ll not remember it, when I say, “I love you”, you’ll quickly tell me, “I love you too”. And that, my dear one, will be more than enough for now.