The hand that first held mine

This is the hand that first held mine.  This is the  hand that I now hold onto tightly as my mother lies dying. Holding her hand, I try to convey the depth of my love and gratitude to her for a lifetime of mothering. Her hand is warm, her heart beats strongly, but her breathing is labored and shallow, and I know the time is approaching soon when I can hold this beloved hand no more.

Nothing exists for me outside of this hospice room. The horizons of my world have shrunk to this small space and a longing to be with her all the time. It is so precious, almost unbearably so, to still be able to reach out and hold her hand as our time together slips inexorably away. I am trying to imprint her deep in my memory; sear her image onto my mind while I still can.

The candles flicker in the silently darkened room. Aunts and uncles come and go, bend over her sleeping form, stroke her hair, listen to her breathing, murmur prayers.

I feel as if I am falling into a huge hole – the hole in my life where my mother should be.

I can’t let go of her hand. How will I let go of her?