You are sitting in that small room, almost a vigil for the living and the frail. This woman sleeping in the bed, she is not well. She does not seem to want to recover; you fear she is giving up. Every day passes more slowly than the next, the shafts of sunlight that passes through the windows thinning. She is sleeping, your mother, but she is not sleeping well.
You sit at a corner, away from the bed, away from her. She cannot sleep with someone breathing over her head, she has told you, told you this many times. She does not want you to take hold of her hands, caress them with love, she does not want your attention or your care. She is past caring about the tears that stream down your face for hers have long dried up.
She will not pray with you.
She has not eaten in two days.
You hold the good book in your hands, on your lap. You know some pages by heart. Psalms which are songs which are salves, during the worst of it. The angels sing the loudest when they are needed, after all. That’s their job. You remember your mother telling you this when you were a little girl, when you fell down and scraped your knee or when someone at school bullied you. The angels, the heavenly choir, they will sing and they will fix you, my dear, my beloved.
You open your eyes and you look at the woman sleeping in the bed, her face partly hidden by the afternoon shadows. You can scarcely believe this is the same woman who told you that truth about angels. Did you imagine this, did you make it up? Where did the angels go?
She won’t pray with you, this woman who first taught you how to pray, this ailing woman lying in bed, sleeping and stirring, and maybe giving up. She won’t cry any more.
You will. You shiver as you open the book again, and turn its pages. You will allow yourself to cry, to let fresh tears stream down your face, you will love her even if she won’t, you will pray even if she has given up on prayers. You will hope and you will be her strength.
She lies there, this woman, your mother. She is still your strength and suffused with this, and with love, you keep praying.