Mom, you’re here? I haven’t felt you near me for a while. I thought you were gone. What is it? You’re cold? What? You want to come in the bed and get warm? You want to come inside, not inside the bed, but inside of me? You want to come inside of me to get warm? Oh no! Mom, I can’t do that. I can’t let you be me. I can’t let you live as me. I can’t do any more than what I’ve already done. You have to go! Go to the light, that’s what they say. To the light, you know? You are hurting? You are lost? Oh my God! I’m so afraid. What is it you want from me now? No,no, I can’t. Please, you have to go where you need to be. What? You can’t find who? She’s gone? Who’s gone Mom? You are gone! Oh, it’s the stroke. You know, you had a stroke? OK, Umm. I don’t know how to help you. What can I do? I know you’re cold. You keep saying you’re cold.

I’ll find you Mom. I’ll look for you. The You, that you were, here. The You, that is missing. Come inside then. Come inside of me where you can get warm. And we’ll find you together.

The doctor shone the light into the woman’s eyes. She isn’t responding to the light, he said. I’m afraid there is no more brain activity. She seems to be brain dead. I’m very sorry.

“I don’t understand,” her husband said. She was fine yesterday. “She lost her Mom a few months ago and it was difficult, but she was doing ok.”

“We can wait for the other results from the tests, but I don’t want to give you false hope,” said the doctor.

“Thank you doctor,” he said. Slowly the man returned home. The house sat silently waiting. The calls and cries of yesterday were no more. From its soulless eyes facing the street no waving arm or smiling face greeted the man. Her things lay as she had left them; as if she would be right back.

That night he was awoken by the bedroom door swinging open and banging against the dresser. He looked up sleepily to see what could have caused the motion. The room was darker than it usually was. All of the normal dim lights from the printer and computer in the office down the hall were off. He pushed himself up onto his elbow. He heard someone talking in the living room. He called out, “Who is it? Who’s here?” There was no reply, but the voices continued. One was deep and gravely. It was his father’s voice. His father had died ten years ago. The other voice sounded just like his brother who had passed away last year. Cold chills went down his body. Slowly he sank back down and wiggled deeper under the covers. He lay still as if frozen, his fear emanated from him in a sort of numbing paralysis. He felt his brother walking down the hallway and stopping in the doorway.

His brother’s questions pushed into his mind. What? He thought back. You want to know, where is my wife? I don’t know? She’s not here. She’s in the hospital. She’s not there either though. They say she’s gone. Why are you here? Can you find her?

His brother turned and went back down the hall. The voices continued a few moments and then stopped. The man lay very still for a long time. It was a dream, he thought. It had to be.

Laughing, she plopped herself on the queen bed in her mom’s room. Her mother sat on the bed and laughed too. Then together they sat on the edge of the bed and looked at each other in the big dresser mirror. They had a long conversation, looking into each other’s eyes. Through the mirror they could see themselves; mother and daughter. They talked about her younger sisters, her Dad. Her mom talked about her childhood about meeting her father and buying their lovely home. She asked questions eagerly, wanting to know more of her mother’s stories of the past.

Smiling at her mother in the mirror she noticed that her mother had stopped moving and that she seemed frozen in place. Then the edges of her body began to fade and shimmer. What’s happening? What’s going on? Mom! Where are you? She tried to turn away from the mirror to look directly at her mother. But she couldn’t move. She felt chilled, as everything around her faded away.

In the hospital a machine began to beep.

She heard the beep from far away. It was urgent and calling to her. She felt her body still and icy close to the beeping sound. A bright sparkle of pure light twinkled nearby.

What, said her mother? Why are you here? You must go! Go to the light! It will be in you. It is you. Her mother’s thought came from the lucent sparkle before her.
She reached out and touched the sparkle. A vibrant joyous energy burst from her fingers and she felt her mother’s love for her and her happiness at seeing her. Then her mother was gone.

As she opened her eyes she saw her husband sitting beside her hospital bed. He smiled at her happily and said Thank God you are back. It’s been so lonely without you.

She reached out her hand to him. It was shaking and her touch on his arm was glacial. She was shivering and pale. I miss you too she said. I’m so cold.

Denise Stromness: “I am a teacher of ESL and English Language Arts although I am not teaching presently. I have a BA in English Teaching and a Minor in ESL that I worked on between the University of Concordia in Montreal, Canada and graduated with at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. I presently live in Utah. I am a Canadian by birth and an American by love as my husband is an American.”