On Tuesday, March 19, at 3:30 in the morning something happened. A scream — full of fear and pain, wrapped around my name — broke the silence.

She fell. She has never fallen. She’s always been a careful woman, careful with her hands, with numbers and words even at 3:30 in the morning when she was pushing her cerulean blue walker to the bathroom.

And then, something, a misstep, in the glow of the night light coming from the bathroom. Something unexpected happened. She reached into the darkness for something familiar that wasn’t there and then she fell.

At that moment, all our plans for the next day and all the days and months to come dropped away.

Then her screams, and she said “call the ambulance,” and her eyes closed.

They took her to Thayer and then to MaineGeneral in Augusta and everything that was solid and real came to an end.


She sleeps now in a deep dream in a hospital far away in the night in a strange bed surrounded by tubes and space age boxes with numbers like a child’s coloring book that tick and whir and sing space age songs with lyrics she cannot hear.

Day 2

With her gone, I wake up alone in the darkest moments before dawn, and slip into my aging slippers and go to her bedroom, where I touch the cold empty pillow that still smells of her.

I run my hands up and down under the flowered spread and yellow blanket and bright sheets hoping to find the crucifix she always went to sleep with.

But I know it is not the crucifix I am looking for, hoping to grab her hand and pull her back into into our world.

The headlights of a passing car run across the walls into my eyes and I see an old man’s face, bewildered and full of fear.


I walk through the house turning lights on and off and on again. I check the banner on the stove. I check Ms. Kramer’s seeds and water and turn the thermostat up so it will be warm for her when she comes down even though I know she won’t, not today.

Day 3 

I find my small crucifix that opens up and reveals a sliver of wood, a “relic” sent to me years ago from Sister Amelia, the keeper of the convent yard where I played as child. Sister, who died many years ago, left it with a note to have it sent to me. I’ve kept it ever since.

Kay, on a sleepless night, asked for it and has slept with it in her hand under her pillow ever since.

I have it near my hand now. I will bring it to the hospital today and to her hand.

Day 5, Palm Sunday


On this third day, a dark morning, as I sit by her bed, running my fingers through her hair, something happens — a small gentle thing, real, not imagined.

Her mouth is, as always, partially open, letting the breathing slip in. I kiss her, and something happens. Her lips around mine, once, and once more. Is a kiss just a kiss, or is it a miracle?

I’ll take it. At this writing she’s still here. I’ll take it.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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