Rated PG-13 with a content warning for end of life care.
by Leah Ning
I could already feel her mind tugging at mine from upstairs, a warm, familiar pull that threatened to separate me from my body. Are you there? the pull seemed to ask. Are you coming back?
I took her bowl of oatmeal from the microwave and tested it with a finger. It had to be a little cooler than she liked now. She couldn’t blow on it herself anymore.
That tidal pull came again, stronger this time, and I had to close my eyes for a moment to fight it. She was harder to resist now than she ever was. For one thing, she never used to pull this hard. For another, her pull had become the only way she would talk. Words escaped her more often than not now.
When the pull abated, I shuffled up the stairs, dirty white slippers whispering on linoleum that hadn’t been swept in…I couldn’t remember how long.
“I’m here, Amy, I’m coming,” I said when I felt her latch on again. She didn’t let go, but the feeling of building strength faded.
She looked at me from against her mound of pillows, her grey eyes watery. Thin lips nestled in a cacophony of wrinkles I’d watched the hand of time etch across her face.
I sat on the edge of the bed. “Oatmeal.”
She made a face.
“Well, I snuck some maple syrup in there this time. How’s that?”
This delighted her as it did every morning. She let me spoon the oatmeal into her mouth and I chatted idly while she worked it across her tongue and swallowed it. My mouth poured sweetness into her ears while my spoon poured sweetness into her mouth.
When the food was gone, she closed her eyes, smiling.
I didn’t notice her strength gathering again until it was too late. I scrambled for a handhold in my mind. The warmth of her pull cradled me, loosening my hold on myself with gentle mental fingers until I gave in and let go.