not too heavy

After a string of terrible nights, Mum slept peacefully until 9.30am.

“You’ve been asleep twelve hours,” I told her.

“Twelve hours! What time is it? Sarah will be cross.”

“You needed it. You were very tired.”

“I was.”

I helped her into the bathroom. She was very staggery.

“Your hair looks beautiful,” I told her as she washed her face. Jenny came and gave her a haircut yesterday.

“It does, doesn’t it?”

“You look beautiful,” I said, and she smiled at me so that her face lit up. “Do you want to go back to bed or sit on the sofa?” I asked.

“Not the bed. But I don’t want to knock you flat.”

“You won’t. I play with horses, remember? And I probably outweigh you now.”

“You probably do!”

“I don’t have to catch you. I just have to push you back over your center of gravity.”

“You’re right, that’s true.”

She made it to the sofa, holding on to her bed and her trolley. I told her what I’d been chatting to Jeremy about. She felt a little ill and asked me to pat her back.

“She only keeps me around because I beat her,” I explained to the orderlies who’d come to clean.

“You can get me back for all the times I beat you,” she said.

“Revenge at last!”

The orderly was anxious to make sure she didn’t walk around in her bedsocks on the wet floor.

“But they have these spots on the soles, so I don’t slip,” said Mum, showing her. “They’re really good.”

The orderlies left and Mum dozed off in my arms. I shifted to hold her better.

“Am I too heavy?” she asked drowsily.

“No,” I said. “I like cuddling you.”

She hasn’t woken up yet, not even when the nurses moved her back to bed in a mechanical sling.

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