He envies her ability to sleep. She’s 85 years old, but she sleeps like a baby, safe and peaceful, without a inch of worry. It’s a strange feeling; watching your mother sleep, wondering how many hours she’s spent watching you sleep when you were little. He leans back in the chair by her bedside, studies her familiar face, a fond smile on his lips, not ready to disturb her just yet.
One of her eyes pop open suddenly, one eye casting a quick look around the room before falling to him. The other eye opens then, a large grin stretching across her face as she seats herself up.
“I thought you were the nurse” His mother says, looking nervously towards the door. “She’s not here is she?”
A chuckle bubbles forth in his throat and he shakes his head in the negative.
“Thank god” She sighs in relief, placing a hand against her chest for dramatic flare. “Did you know what she tried to do yesterday? She tried to take my quilt away. What kind of woman takes another woman’s quilt? I made it from your old jerseys, look” She says, pride coming off of her in waves as she digs the quilt from beneath her pillow and folds it out so he can get a better look.
“I completely agree with you, mom. No woman should take another woman’s quilt” He chuckles, watching her as she folds the blanket and shoves it beneath her pillow, looking around carefully so no one sees her hiding place.
“Maybe she was going to wash it?” He offers as an explanation.
“Wash what? Do you need me to wash something?” She asks the way only a mother can, concerned that he doesn’t have any clean clothes to wear.
He tries to hide his sadness with a forced smile, but no matter how hard he tries it still shows. Disappointment and sorrow flashes in the depth of his mothers beautiful blue eyes, and he quickly grasps her hand in his and holds it tightly, silently offering comfort.
“It happened again, didn’t it?” She whispers hoarsely, her eyes blank with unshed tears. “I forgot again”
He gives her hand a small squeeze “It’s okay, mom”
She squeezes his hand back, her small hand wrapping itself tightly around his as if he’s the only thing anchoring her to sanity. He’s read thousands of articles and files about dementia, but he still can’t imagine what it must feel like to actually have it, to slowly loose pieces of yourself until you’re just a shell of the person you once were. He would be petrified if he suddenly started to forget pieces of himself, conversations. He would have felt like he was loosing his mind.
“Is it Wednesday?” His mother asks, breaking the silence. “You always visit on Wednesdays”
“No, but it’s the 5th of May” He says with a wistful smile, fishing an envelope out from the pocket of his jacket before handing it over to her.
A lone tear trails down her cheek when she looks at the envelope, trailing a thumb across her neatly scripted name. “You remembered” She chokes out through the lump in her throat, looking at him with complete and utter amazement.
“How could I not? It’s the day dad saw you for the first time. The day dad fell in love”
She falls quiet again, still trailing her thumb across her name, as if touching her husbands handwriting could bring him back. He guesses that it does brings him back somehow, in her memories.
“Remember what he used to tell you when you were little? How the 5th of May was one of the most important days of the year? The way he used to sit with you for hours, explaining in great detail how May was his favorite month of the year and how we’d always celebrate the 5th, because that’s when he met the love of his life. Do you remember that, David?”
More tears trickle down her face as she speaks, and a heavy lump forms in his throat. The day his dad died, a piece of his mother died too. He was certain she’d die of a broken heart at the time, but she pulled through it somehow.
“I remember, Mom. It’s why I’m here. To celebrate the 5th of May with you. The day we always celebrate”