Making Valentine’s day cards with my Mom has been a tradition of ours for at least five years now, since she moved to Iowa City to be closer to me. It’s also special because my birthday is the day before. Today was the day. I went to the nursing home for their Valentine’s Day craft time. I asked her to make me a card. She could not do it. It was the first time. Another goodbye. Another lost connection. Another ambiguous loss.
“Mom, can you make a card for me? Can you write your name?” She said yes to both but could do neither. She sat, hunched over with eyes closed, pen in a hand trembling slightly, then more forcefully. I took the pen from her. It was too painful to leave it there, strong purposeful, in her useless hand. I made the cards.
Small delights: she liked to look at the stickers on the table, the cards that I made. She seemed to have some memory of doing cards before. Low bar. But still, I want you to hold a pen and make a card for me.
I see glimpses of her, but mostly I wonder where she is going?
What will we do next year on Valentine’s Day? I know that this is going to get worse. I thought I could not bear it when she did not know my name. I have borne it. What more will I have to bear? How can I say goodbye when you are still here?