I am the observer. That was my job, to observe and to anticipate what mommy needed. I never knew a mommy without pain, so that was my job. What does she need? How is she feeling? Did this person hug her too tight? Has she taken her meds? Does she need to lay down? Did she forget that she had a busy day yesterday? She’s not going to be able to function well today. Is that bag too heavy? Has she been standing talking to that person too long?

She would fuss at me for fussing at her. “Okay, little mama!” She’d say that in frustration when she knew I was right about something, but didn’t want to listen…So stubborn. Or, I’d be fussing around her while she was on the phone, or talking and she’d stop mid sentence and say, “That’s mama number two, over there.”

In all that she would still be surprised when I would know what she needed. “Pookie! How did you know? How did you know I was hurting?! How did you know?” I would laugh…”Ma, you act like I ain’t been knowin’ you all my life!” She’d laugh.

A big part of me is doing ok even in the midst of all this.  The part of me that had to anticipate…the part of me that hurt because I had moved away and couldn’t anticipate what she needed anymore. I’m doing ok because no one knows a mother like her daughter…and I knew mommy was in pain. So her being gone from me and praising Jesus instead -no pain? Oh I’m so glad for that. I rejoice in that.

I’m sad though; taking care of mommy was a part of my identity. Praying for her when I wake up in the mornings, texting her songs that I know she would like. Calling home because I know my stories make her laugh. Going home because I know having her kids there was her great joy.

I was so happy to take care of her during Christmas break. My dad and my brothers are the most fantastic human beings…but they are boys, and sometimes they just don’t get it. Me and mommy, we were the girls. The boys could be off doing x, y, and z…but the girls would look after each other.

So that’s the hole. That’s what’s missing for me. What do I do, what do I anticipate? 28 years is a long time to learn and  anticipate what one person needs. Taking care of mommy meant I was doing my job. So now what?