When I Was Nine Years Old

When I was nine years old.
My mother went to the hospital
unable to remember,
her own name,
or that I was her daughter.

There she battled for her life while
I went on with my life,
never missing a day of school, where people
would smile,
and teachers would ask if I was okay.
Of course I was okay I thought.
And the house, already big, only seemed bigger
without the person who made it home.
Some days, I saw people’s eyes
fill with tears,
on the verge of falling like a rain droplet on a leaf.

The waiting, like a quiet room filled with tension.

Finally I got to see her, lying as pale as the sheets that covered her hospital bed.
I was happy to see she finally remembered who I was.
But I didn’t want to hug her,
because I was afraid her brain disease was contagious
and I didn’t know any better.
My mom returned home weeks later,
but she wasn’t who she was before.
She was using new words,
and forgetting the words,
she used to know so well.
She was different,
and yet no one questioned it.
we just smiled at her loving her
not for who she use to be,
or who she would become,
but for the whole process that she was.

And years later, I found myself wishing I had
hugged my mom.

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