When we say our goodnights and head to bed, Mom doesn’t hug me, she holds me close. Her hands run up and down my back, touching lightly over the injured areas of my shoulder, following the curve of my spine as I bend over to reach her small frame.
I don’t remember her being this small, but I know it’s just a trick of the mind, an exaggeration of my fears made visible.
I clutch her to me in return, feeling the fire of chemo racing through her; it’s a strange feeling. For all of my life, I remember Mom being cold to the touch, a reflection of her low body fat. Winter meant losing Mom to layers and blankets. But this year is different; this year she’s not lost under layers that hide her shape and form and frailty. This year, her delicateness is visible to us, and I am afraid I might snap her in half as I hold her while we say goodnight.
Her lips brush against my forehead, soft and warm, and she whispers “I love you”, and I know that the time has come to let go. But only for the night. Only for the night.