I can’t believe it was only a month ago that she was standing tall, dressed in a navy blue pants ensemble with a cream-colored silk blouse, looking as elegant as always as she sent me off to the airport to return home. “We’ll see each other again,” she told me, with her gold Nephritides necklace hanging from her neck, as it had most days of her life for more than a decade.
Her matching navy blue sandals had a two-inch heel that restored her height to the stature I remembered her having when I was a child. I wondered: had she begun shrinking through the normal aging process, or was it the illness that had shortened her? Perhaps she was no shorter at all; she simply seemed that way to a daughter moving up the ladder of mortality.
Her make-up was flawless, I remember, and conservative: a light application of base to even out the pecan complexion that was just slightly darker under her eyes, and a wine shaded lipstick that left its imprint on my cheek. Her signature headwear completed the picture imprinted on my mind.
That day she chose a beret – cream-colored to match her blouse. It was her favorite kind of hat, the one she wore most often if she could get away with it. It was fitting that a beret was the last hat I saw her in.
There is no hat now. There’s barely hair since Tony came in and cut off the soft, shiny, wavy curls of her mixed African- and Native-American heritage. I miss the curls as I stare at her, remembering her look of dismay two weeks earlier when I said her hair looked good grown out. It had been long and enviable throughout my life until the Florida heat inspired her to crop it close to her scalp.
I run my hand across the fresh-cut, hoping she can feel my touch. My other hand is wrapped around her own, squeezing, willing her to open her eyes.