Five years ago today, April 11th, Mom came and stayed the night at my house. Her “pneumonia” wouldn’t let her sleep laying down and she wanted to try sleeping propped up on my couch. Little did we know, her heart was already failing from some mysterious heart attack she’d had who knows when. Her lungs had filled with liquid, and she’d just assumed she was sick. And like the stoic badass she was, she toughed it out for weeks, waiting for it to pass, until that night when Juan Luis finally convinced her to go to a doctor if she didn’t wake up better. We sat up that night joking, watching an Elton John tribute, sipping margaritas because they helped relax her enough to sleep. We had no clue. No fucking clue. I would’ve done things so differently.
The next morning when I got up for work, I glanced at the couch to check on her, but she wasn’t there. I looked around, but when I returned to the couch, I saw she’d hunched over a pillow and was practically bent in half. My first thought was that Mom looked small. Like, tiny. Mom had never seemed tiny to me. Mom was bigger than life. Mom unapologetically took up space. A trait I wished I’d gotten a smidgeon of. I went to work, she eventually woke up, and my niece drove her to the clinic… the eight days that followed were so intense and profound and surreal. So enormous, yet immensely tiny—a blink of an eye, a split second, a heartbeat—and changed the chemical makeup of who I am. But we had no idea that night, singing Crocodile Rock and Your Song. Just being a mom and a daughter who had all the time in the world.