A peek through the window

Most of the time when dad and I visit mom, we get a fairly stoic looking face, rarely eye contact unless we stand directly in front of her. It’s hard to tell if she recognizes us as who we are (daughter and husband) because she doesn’t use our names. Communication is one word commands or requests – “Strawberries” or “Cake” or “Water”. Occasionally she’ll answer our “I love you”s with I love you, too. Not so much lately.

It’s like the person we knew is behind a very dirty window, or one covered with frost. We know she’s there, because we can see her shadow. We fill in the details with our own memories of who she was, who we see in our mind’s eye.

Today, a tiny circle of the frost cleared. It was a brief, but heart-stopping, heart wrenching, give me my mother back now I miss her moment.

I walked into the room; dad was sitting next to the bed, mom had her eyes closed. Then she opened them. I said “Hi, Mom!! How are you today?”

Mom: “What? I can’t hear you.” (a whole sentence? a whole sentence?)

Me (a little louder and closer to her face): “How are you feeling?”

Mom (looking AT me): “I’m feeling better”

Me: “Good!!”

and then from her lips to my heart

“I love you”

THUD

“Oh, mom, I love you, too!”

Dad gave her kisses. I went to get the ice cream to go with the strawberries and cake we brought, and to sob quietly.

When I got back, the moment was obviously slipping away. “Strawberries”, she said. And with that, the frost began to fill in that place in the window and she was gone.

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