I hold her hands while sitting gingerly on the side of her bed. I’m wary of crushing her as I lean over to kiss her on both cheeks. She smells the same. Her eyes are the bluest they’ve ever been.
We chat quietly… she’d like some decorations around the windows for Christmas. Blue and white. Silver. Snowflakes, maybe.
I smile and say, “Are you sure you don’t want a big string of coloured lights? Or how about a giant blow-up bonhomme with a massive carrot nose, that sings Jingle Bells?” She looks at me, horrified. I sway from side to side, making jazz hands, and her face splits into a huge grin. She knows I’m kidding. These are the jokes we share – about tacky decorations and general overdoneness of things. We are so funny. It’s good to see her smile.
I stroke her forearms and hold her hands. Has her skin always been this soft? It’s like a baby’s. Soft like powder. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed before. But, I’ve never spent time hugging and kissing her like this, either. Has she always been this small? I rake my fingers through her hair, and she complains about bedhead. She says she wants to go to town next week to have it cut. I just smile. She looks down at our hands together and says she should have her nails done too, when she goes. I have a closer look – they’re a longer than she normally keeps them, but they’re not in bad shape, really.
“Would you like me to do them for you? I’d be happy to. Of course.”
Of course I would do anything.
She makes a face and shrugs a little. “I think I’ll just sleep a little bit.”
“That’s a good idea,” I say. “Just let me know if you change your mind. Hooker red, maybe.” I smirk.
She smiles at me. “You have one of those moths on your cheek again. Did you see it?”
I smile at her, and brush at the side of my face. “Is it gone?”
“They come with the birds…”
“Do they?” I smile and look into her sleepy eyes.
Sometimes, opiates are good.
“We’ll be back in a few days,” I say. And I leave her to sleep.
A few days. A few weeks. It’s hard to tell. But, we will be back.
. . .
Oliver is pensive lately. He says, “I don’t want grandma to die.”
I nod and answer, “I don’t want her to die either.”
He: I thought she would get better if she rested more.
Me: I know. Sometimes cancer isn’t like that. *rubs his head* And we don’t want her to be sick anymore, right? Suffering is bad.
He: I know, but… *face crumples* …it’s not fair.
Me: I know. I’m so sorry.
He: *teary* It’s daddy’s mummy… you know?
Me: I know.
I can tell this is the first time he’s transferring the information in his head. That grandmothers die. Which means that mothers die, too. I watch his face carefully, and I let him work it out. He considers it all… he is sad, but he’s okay.
This boy hugs me and tells me he loves me. He tells me again and again over the course of the weekend. I hold him close, and tell him not to be scared. It’s the natural order of things, even though it’s hard and sad and it feels terrible. Don’t be scared. Everything is going to be okay.
Everything is going to be okay, eventually. Let’s just hold each other for now.
Le sigh. This is how it goes.