Years ago, late at night in the hospital I had told mom how much I regretted how estranged she and I had been for so long, how miserable it had made me and how pointless it seemed, now that she might lose her life or at least large parts of it. I am not sure how much she heard me. She sighed, but said nothing. After a moment she said “and here I am, asking God for help, just like everyone else,” with a blank expression that changed into a lopsided frown. 

The next morning I woke up in the cramped sleeping chair, very groggy. Mom was snoring.

A vitals-taker was in the room. I had chatted with her last night, or probably days ago. I told her I couldn’t feel my legs

“We harvested them for other patients,” she said without looking up.

Then her head turned quickly as my mother’s body bent at the waist, slowly raising her head and shoulders up to look at me and moan “AND NOW I WANT YOUR BRAIN, BEN…!”

(This was funny because she was awaiting surgery to remove a brain tumor. Despite a great deal of trouble and pain between us, I am still grateful for this one moment where we truly understood each other.)

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