I always see her hands. They are slightly larger but otherwise just like the ones I am using to type this memory. She turns a page of her brown hardcover prayer book, preparing for her turn to pray. A cell phone is perched on one of our legs. We are at the rehab center in Lindenhurst IL, alone in the small second floor lounge. It is dark evening. Behind us, the boys carefully ignore a partially assembled puzzle a resident may be working on, scour hardwood shelves full of games for something entertaining enough to play, and whisper to each other.
I may go back to this time for less than a second, a flash, and then I return to the present before I realize I’ve gone anywhere, or I may, like I did today, linger beside my mom in her wheel chair or on the brown leather couch (she often moved during prayers in an effort to get comfortable in a body that was always in pain) as we share the dim light of two small lamps, and see her there holding her prayer book with such determination. By then, every action required effort. We were so quiet then, hopeful and sad, peaceful and present, and we were together.
My mom and I had been praying together with David and other friends and family, often with some of us on the phone, each night for months, beginning November 2012. We continued to pray nightly in this fashion until July 23rd 2013, the day she passed away. By the end only the slightest movements or change of breath let us know she was listening and praying silently beside us beside her.
We prayed in hospital rooms and hotel rooms, in her bedroom at the rental house on John St where the boys and I lived briefly in order to be near and help take care of her after neck surgery and from her living room in Urbana where she and I would share her small soft white chair (looking back, that was the sweetest as I could rest my head on her shoulder or the other way around), and from both rehab centers where she stayed following surgeries. Prayers for healing of every kind and for many love ones, prayers for unity, peace and Removers of Difficulties for friends in hard times were sent into the mysterious flow that is supplication to our Creator.
David and I still pray together nearly everyday. Our prayers are from this same book my mom held. Often, I am the one turning pages while David drives and as I do, out of all the hours and places my mom and I shared in such reverence, I am transported, mind and heart to that lamp-lit lounge in the rehab center where I see her hands shaking just slightly as she gets ready for her turn to speak, to carry on the melodious verses we’re sharing with and for our dear ones. It was then that I began to sense her strength of spirit.