Lying muted in pregnant silence, her weightless body seemed to float above the bed as though a cloud had dispelled the gravity that once bound her. As I nestled beside her, the comforting fragrance of the familiar lavender perfume whiffed through my nostrils. Her body was cold and I cupped her frail hand with my warm palm, hoping to melt the ice that sheathed the surface of her skin. I could hear the wheeze of her breath escape her lips, and the beating sound of her infirm heart maintain its steady rhythm.
Forming a closed zip across the top of her head, staples sealed the scar that etched her naked scalp, marking the battles she had encountered. Her stitches dug into her head, forming a bumpy trail across its surface. She appeared queerly different now that her hair had freed itself from the grasp of its roots. Before, her long locks would entwine round my fingers and I would feel its sleek texture caress my skin. The smell of her usual shampoo would linger in the air, and I would be spellbound by its tranquilising aroma. Her hair used to elevate with buoyancy, but now I could no longer feel her curls wrap round my fingers. I could no longer inhale its coconut-scent. Now, all that was left was the symptoms of her suffering.
My hand traced the outline of her rumpled flesh. Definitive nasolabial folds creased the skin of her face. Time kidnapped her youth and tormented it with the scourging wrinkles of age. Her eyes sank into its sockets, and I could feel the bones of her face push through, as though her skeleton was attempting to escape from the rest of her body. Drool slowly cascaded from her lower lip, falling into the distinctive cleft that furrowed her chin. The dimples of her cheeks grooved as her lips slowly widened, forming a tender smile at my touch.
Suddenly, her chest convulsed as a raspy cough vacated from her throat. I was immediately fearful. Nerves shot through my veins like an electrical current, and I tightened my grip of her delicate hand. Unexpectedly, she released an enfeebled laugh, and its sound drew me back to my youth; reminding me of her deep-throated chuckles when telling me bedtime stories. I recalled how the melodic tune of her lullabies would hypnotise me into deepened slumber as she cradled my petite body, assuring me that the dark world that encompassed me wasn't such a scary place. To this day, even with her weakness ever growing, I still felt so protected in her fragile arms – the same arms that sheltered me all the days of my life.
With a trembling quiver, her hand raised mine to her lips and I felt the touch of its dry, cracked skin kiss me. This act of affection relaxed my thumping heart and suffused my entire body with warmth. Regardless of the agony she was forced to endure, she was still able to show me love and make me feel loved.
My beautiful mother; if only my eyes could let me see her.