I was drying Lily’s hair after her bath. The drying of Lily’s hair takes place on my bed in my bedroom. She rests in the basket of my legs and watches the Wiggles while I dry and groom her hair, drawing out thick locks of hair like wet silk and brushing it smooth as it dries. She doesn’t love it, but at least doesn’t fight it.
When we finished I threw back the covers that I’d gathered around her to help hold her in place and she spun to face me, careless of the placement of her knees, her not inconsiderable weight plopping down inconveniently as I dodged and adjusted my position.
She stared back past me, up and to my left and I followed her gaze back to the wedding portrait that hangs over my bed. Leslie and I standing in our wedding day attire next to a reflecting pool. It’s not something she typically does.
“Whatcha lookin’ at, Lil?” She didn’t answer. I wanted her to say mommy; needed her to say it. I wanted to know she remembered. I mean, I know she does, but sometimes I just need to hear it.
“Who is that in the picture, Lil?”
“Daddy!” she answered.
“And who else?”
“No…Lily’s not in that picture. Who else is in that picture?”
“Mommy,” she said, and then she was silent for a moment before adding, “No matter what.”
The words Leslie said to her every night at bed time; the words I now say to her after her prayers. “I love you, no matter what.”
“Yes,” I said to her, blinking back tears, “Mommy loves you no matter what.”
She remembers. Of course she remembers.
It’ll be a year this coming Thursday.
We all live on borrowed time. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, all that stuff. Bodies are temporary. People pass away. But a mother's love endures; a mother’s love is forever.
No matter what.