A new dawn brings brighter gray, a deeper chill
and thickening quiet. I untwist myself from blankets
and cross the cold room, step into the warmth
of the shower: breathe in, breathe out.
When I emerge, the bed has been made and the yellow light
of a lamp glows, illuminating my daughter.
She stands and speaks softly, dressed in the soft grey wings
of a poncho, blue knitted booties on her feet.
I open each small canister on the countertop
carefully, measuring out pills and handing them to her
in a small clear cup.
She treasures tiny things as one would hold diamonds, marveling
at their preciousness, asking questions
about how things are made, how things feel, how things are or should be
recalling memories from months ago, people or songs or moments
how everything and everyone seems new to her, even
when she knows they are not.
I gaze in her eyes, watch tears fall from green-blue-gold, her eyelashes
still long and dark, the envy of many nurses. She swallows each pill
with slow, practiced precision, turning to give me
the thumbs up sign.
I look at the tiny hairbrush in the drawer
but don’t pick it up; I want to let the tendrils stay
a while longer. She seems unbothered by it, today choosing
to go without a colorful scarf. But the light has dimmed a bit
from her eyes, the gray of winter weather
seeping into both of us like the heaviness
of rain into earth.
After breakfast, we gather canvas and paints, letting the brushes
bring color into our day, into these steadfast hours
of waiting through the pain. A calm fills the space
where fear sits close behind, a silent shadowed thing
that threatens to take the time we have together
and press it into sorrow.
I pull open the shades in our small room, grateful
for this space we’ve been given
to be in together, mindful of the fear
that follows us. Willing my daughter’s courageous heart
and incredible mind to banish it, allowing hope
in its place.
Outside, the snow blankets the rooftops, the city hushed.
We sit for a while, motionless and watchful, our tears falling noiselessly
as the tree branches glisten, a season of sadness
stretching to meet the sun
at its end.