Love and Hugs

Oh let me remember Mom’s hugs—the rounded softness of her shoulders, her scent, the hum of her voice with our heads pressed together.


I wanted one of her hugs the night she lay dying.


The last one we exchanged was at the airport in December after Christmas. I think I remember it, but the memory might be blended with the airport hug in November after Thanksgiving. They were similar—affectionate, moving, heavy with unspoken emotion.


The last hug I gave her was during her final breaths, early in the morning. By then, my dad and sister had pushed her hospice bed flush against the bed I lay on so that I could reach her better. My dad was on the other side of her bed and my sister at the foot of my bed. We had all been silent but not sleeping. Suddenly, at the same time, we each sensed a change in her breathing. We knew what was happening, and moved closer to her.


I lay my head on her shoulder, my arm around her neck. Even then, she was soft and warm, like the word mother. Her shoulder heaved up and down beneath me. Her breaths became sighs. Our good-byes became tears. Her shoulder became still.


When we were young, my three sisters and I heard the story of Little Women. Those four girls—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy—called their mother Marmee. From time to time, we four girls called our mother Marm. Sometimes I’d write it in letters; sometimes she signed her letters that way.


Our Marmee is incomprehensibly gone. But her love isn’t. As one of my sympathy cards states, a mother’s love lasts forever. She gave so much of it, so freely. Nothing can take that away.


A friend who lost her dad told me that for her, feeling the depths of pain and expressing her grief was a testament to how much she loved him. How helpful her perspective! For now, I can only hug my mother with my tears. But one day, when my life on earth is done, when we all receive glorified bodies and cry no longer, I will embrace her with my arms once again.



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