Unable to wake me up by calling to me, my mother had tried to make her way to the bathroom on her own. By the time I woke, she had soiled herself and was crying from humiliation. She apologized as I washed her off and dressed her in a clean flannel nightgown. I kept thinking, “She did this for me – over and over and over.” I felt love and gratitude at being able to take care of her the way she had once cared for me. In the morning I went out and bought a baby monitor.
That night I lay on a narrow cot in her living room and listened to her sounds on the speaker. My breathing slowed and followed the rhythm of her breathing. A vast peace washed through me as I realized that the last time we had breathed as one, I had been in her womb, truly one with her. How to explain that simple calm, the rise and fall, the fullness, the breathing out, rocking, all soft and slow and love and quiet and air? We breathed together, even as I fell asleep and drifted.
Cate's mother was a great reader and introduced all her children to the pleasures of afternoons lost in the worlds of books.