- Vol. 05
Image by Mary Cassatt
Learning to LoveI faintly remember the times that you vigorously washed and dried my hair on Sunday evening, the brush catching the edges of my ears as I squirmed and wriggled beneath the blistering heat of a hairdryer on full blast.
Often, I remember something else, I remember you squirming as I brushed your hair. Watching it fall out with each stroke as you got weaker and thinner. I cried again that night, wanting to be beneath you with the hairdryer burning my ears once more but it was never to be.
Last night at tea-time, I sat next to you on your bed, now placed in the living room because you could no longer manage the stairs, talked to you while I stroked your arm and held your hand. I tried to get you to drink the thick protein drinks you were given to keep your strength up but like a child you kept refusing.
I was a young mother, flitting between a 53-year-old and a three-year-old. Using what was left of my youth to care for you both. A mother's love. A child’s love. Life was blurred, a rush of nursery runs and hospital appointments. I did not stop because love is unconditional. When you passed away I ran, through the hospital corridors and out the door like I’d done many times when I was a teen and the pain inside me got too much but I soon realised it was still there and the only way to heal was through time and learning to love myself in the same way you loved me.