Monday, November 16, 2009

before the moment slips away from memory

On Sunday evening, Mom lay on the living room couch. We had angled the couch so that Mom could watch TV. I sat on the floor next to her for much of that time, holding her left hand with my right, my fingers laced in hers. As I had done on many other occasions, I bounced my hand gently, and could feel Mom weakly matching the rhythm as we both watched Food Network broadcasts. I turned around to talk to Mom on several occasions, asking her yes/no questions to which she could nod or shake her head.

At one point, I noticed that she was staring at my hair, which had grown in quite a bit over recent weeks. Back when I was bald, I sometimes let Mom feel my scalp-- anything to allow her a tactile experience. Feeling my scalp sometimes made her laugh; with that in mind, I unlaced my fingers from Mom's hand and placed it on my now-furry head, then turned toward the TV and pretended to watch it. I was curious as to what would happen next.

Mom's hand sat limply on my skull for a few moments, then came to life, running through my new hair, which was now long enough to be soft instead of bristly. Her fingers traveled slowly and tremulously over my scalp, expressing a genuine emotion-- not so much curiosity as care. After a few moments, her hand crossed over to my left ear and stroked it, radiating a comforting, maternal warmth. The tenderness of Mom's touch was indescribable: however much the cancer and the surgery might have mangled her ability to think and feel, her love remained unfogged by disease. It was simple, pure, fulsome.

And undefeated.

I almost cried then, as Mom's hand stroked the side of my head and the TV droned on. Over the past seven months, cancer has whittled my relationship with my mother down to its essence, leaving no more room for pretense. Mom doesn't speak much anymore, so all that's left to us is the language of eyes and palms and fingertips. I knew that she was telling me something through her tender, deliberate touch. I can only hope she understood my answer-- I love you, too, Mom-- as I placed my hand on top of hers.



Lorianne said...

Thank you for sharing this: it's beautiful.

Kevin Kim said...

Thanks, L. It wasn't easy to write.

Maven said...

It won't be easy to re-read when you look back on this blog post either.

I got a bit misty reading it, too.

Elisson said...

It won't be easy to re-read, years from now... but you will be so glad you wrote it.

This blog is like a treasure-box. One day you may want or need to bury it for a while, but when you come back to it, you will find that the precious gems it contains will have been undimmed by time.

Ahh, what I wouldn't give to feel the touch of my mother's fingers on my face...

gcotharn said...

Human. Eternal. Awesome.