Last year, I bought a lantern for our cabin and filled the batteries for storm season. My child played with it in the “woods” of her darkened bedroom.
Last week, power flickered. I flipped the lantern switch. The batteries may have died, but we never lost the light.
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In sixth grade, I strode into your bedroom to find you situated on your bed with your Stephen King book in hand. Eyes almost closed, but not quite.
Scruffy flannel pajamas snuggled your body. Antique quilts swaddled the bed. Your glasses had slipped to the bottom of your nose, like always, and you hadn’t yet shoved them back up.
Soft white light whispered to the shadows in your corner of the room. I didn’t say anything. Didn’t have to. But I needed to be close to you. At your side. A daughter needs her mother.
So I slid into your bed. Opened my R.L. Stine book. Exhaled.
It would have been different had we known what was to come; cancer.
At that moment, we would’ve had conversations about life. About close family I never had the chance to meet. About what you were like as a child.
You’d show your candor, your true colors. But that knowledge, that experience, would’ve come at a cost.
But we didn’t know. Not yet. Instead, only our steady sighs and the shooshing of turning pages swept against our ears. Everything else turned silent because it was our space, our time.
Had we known, we would have gained something. But we would have lost so much, only to watch the clock.
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