Sleeping with my mom this time, I feel the bed quiver all night, her hands jittering endlessly, electrical currents of some sort coursing through, her legs making small continuous kicks, her whole body spasming. I lie face to face with her and cover her hands with my own. Slowly the current traveling through them simmers, and her hands alight on the sheet like crooked birds, the tremor just a hint now as her breath deepens, as dreams take hold. In her sleep the jittering comes and goes all night, but she doesn't awaken. I barely sleep, aware of the constant pulsing of current through her body. This is completely new. If I lift my hands from hers, her forearms rise stiffly into the air, of their own accord, the fingers askew, and still she sleeps, hands fluttering.
"Just be there," my husband says when I describe this new state of being to him. "Don't worry about next. Just be there now."
And so I am.
Yesterday, I was distressed, still getting used to the newest incursions of age, not close to being at peace with the fact that I can do nothing to arrest its march. Today feels different, each minute a new blessing. I feel a deep sense of gratitude that I can be here with my mom, just sitting with her with no agenda, talking sometimes, silent together sometimes, massaging lotion into her hands, helping them loosen, relax, and playing songs she loves on the tiny remote Jambox that belongs to my son, which he allowed me to bring so that I could play music for his grandmother with pure rich tones.
She lies all the way back in her recliner, listening, tears at the corners of her eyes.
I don't want to make you cry, I tell her.
She waves a hand, unable right then to form the words she wants.
Are you crying from sadness or from the music, I ask.
Joy, she says. The pure beauty of it. This is what I needed.
Well, cry then, I say.
Oh, she has been a wondrous mother, and it is not just nostalgia that makes me say this. I know how fortunate I have been. Being here with her right now is a mediation. I have to still my restlessness, quiet my racing thoughts and just be here as my husband says, just be here, just be.