Actually, I'm not sure you could call it sleeping.
Mom was dying from kidney cancer that had metastasized over her entire body. Her hospital bed was set up in the dining room and I was 'sleeping' on the couch near her in the living room to take care of her during the night. My sister and I took turns.
Mom was sort of quiet that night eight years ago. When morning came my sister arrived to take over the day shift and I kissed my mom goodbye and went to get my children off to school.
When I got home my sister called and told me to come right back. Mom was much, much worse.
She died that morning, with her family around her. I can't believe it's been eight years that you've been gone mom.
Tonight while Ash was at church for a meeting, Lance and I walked across to the cemetery nearby where my mom's body is buried. I say her body, because it's not her. I watched that morning as her spirit left her mortal body. She's not there in the ground...but I go there sometimes to talk to her.
I spoke at her funeral a few days after her passing and this is what I said:
Last night I sat in the dark, holding my Mother's hand. When I first picked up her hand it frightened me, it was so cold. As I sat there, warming her chilled hand with the warmth of my own, memories washed over me and swept me up in river of remembrances of better days. I started to think about all the things her hands had done, all the things I had learned from her hands.
As a young girl I was convinced that my Mother had magic hands. You see, I was born with an ulcer that wasn't diagnosed until I was four or five years old. My very first memory is of pain in my tummy and lying on the dining room floor. Mom would hold me and place her warm hand over my belly where the pain was worst and like the miracle of a Mother's love, the pain would leave my little body. No medicine was ever as effective as her warm hand. It was magic. It always was.
Mom's hands were the ones that brushed and yanked on the hair that went clear down to my bottom. I always dreaded our morning ritual before school. A chair was brought to the middle of the kitchen and I sat down. Mom used the considerable force of her hands to sweep my hair into a ponytail so tight that my eyes were pulled in opposite directions. If I complained too much or brought my own little hands up to protect my sensitive head, I'd receive a rap on my knuckles from the brush she was wielding in her hands. Hers were the hands that washed my long hair in kitchen sinks and in bathtubs until I was old enough to manage all that hair on my own.
My bedroom was upstairs above the kitchen and I would watch her reflection in the neighbor's window as she stood at the sink and washed up the dinner dishes at night. Her hands could withstand water so much hotter than my own little hands ever could. To this day she could fill a sink with water so scalding that I was certain it would take the skin off her hands. It never did. Her hands must have been covered in heat-resistant skin. Those hands washed mountains of dishes by hand until Dad finally gave in and bought a dishwasher. Before that life-altering event, I became old enough to wash dishes on my own and her hands would point out the food residue that my ineffectual scrubbing had missed. Her hands always did it right the first time, every time.
Mom's hands taught me how to bake cookies and set tables. Her hands poured the dreaded iodine over my skinned knees and then applied bandages. She used her hands to dust, to vacuum, to decorate for holidays, and to make sure I knew when I was out of line. Her hands placed thermometers in my mouth and buckets under my chin. Hers were the hands with the white knuckles as she taught me how to drive. Her hands wrote countless letters to me while I was away at college and again when I was living in Venezuela. Each letter came from her heart, through her hands, to me.
Hers were the hands that taught me how to change a baby's diaper and how to test a bottle to see if it was too warm.
"Warm hands, warm heart," she'd always say. And her hands were always the warmest in the room.
Mom’s hands have wrapped 42 years worth of birthday presents for me and addressed 16 years worth of wedding anniversary cards to Lance and I. Her hands held my last baby before my hands did, and she's never let me forget it.
Her hands will never again brush my hair, wrap a package or hold a grandchild. Her hands have a different mission now. I believe with all my heart that very soon her hands will be wrapped up in her Mother's hands, in her Father's hands and she will be taken, hand in hand, home to where she belongs. She will raise her hands in joy at being relieved from her pain and reunited with loved ones that have gone before.
I believe that my Mother's magic hands have important things to do as she continues on her journey. I know those hands will be waiting for me one day.