I keep thinking about how different my morning is. Nothing like twenty six years ago.
Nora quietly woke up slowly. When I peeked in their room, she turned to me like a sunflower facing the sun. She stretched. She flopped back into bed. I approached her, arms open. She bounded into my arms instinctively.
I carried her in to our room, she gently patted my back as we moved. Spencer hardly stirred.
Twenty six years ago, I got myself up on my own. I was careful to be quiet, as there were so many of my aunts and uncles gathered in the house. I showered. I dressed. Although, I can't be sure. My heart was numb. My brain switched off.
I set Nora on the bed. She smiled and said, "Cuddle time?" I climbed back into bed and she wrapped her arms around me.
I heard muffled noises from the front of the house. I dreaded seeing everyone. I noiselessly stalked into the kitchen. I thought about breakfast, but I don't think I ate. Someone motioned for me to say goodbye to my mom before I headed off to the bus stop. I stepped down into the family room.
"Tomorrow is family day. Two days in a row," I told Nora and she glowed. Her long limbs twitched in excitement. I steadied my heart. Taking stock to stay in the moment. Training my brain to stay here.
The room was dark. Crowded. Sad. My mom had been sleeping in a hospital bed near the sliding glass door. I had not known that the addition of the hospital room meant my mom would soon be dead. I just thought, I just thought... I was careful not to wake her. I bent over the railing and laid my hand on hers. It was cold.
The light from the windows finally got Spencer to stir. I try not to think about how important light is to the race to get to school on time as we face the dark seasons. Dave goes to him and lures him into the day. He, too, is reminded that family weekend starts tomorrow.