The first time I folded his walker and put it in the back of my car, I had this weird deja- vu feeling. When I came around to the driver’s side, and checked his seat belt, it washed over me again. I have been in this movie before, I thought.

Perplexed, I drove to the doctor’s office. I got out of the car, pulled out the walker, unfolded it, came around to the passenger side, unbuckled his seat belt, and that is when it hit me full force. I HAVE been in this movie before.

The other time, I was the mother to my toddlers, folding and unfolding their strollers, protecting them from harm, touching their cheeks, looking deep into their eyes, basking soul to souls, and now this. This bent war vet, ravaged by time and disease, and I am here, showing up as a mother, maternal instinct intact, heart opened, fussing and pampering as mothers do, to keep him safe, away from harm, protected and warm. Before, a mother to blossoming little beings. Now, mothering the tail end of his life, touching his stubbly cheek, looking deep into his faded eyes, waiting for the smile, giggle, or laugh- A mother’s payoff.

Back then, I looked forward to their unfolding. Now, I stay present, in the moment only, not looking forward, but holding fiercely on the now.

We have our little intimate inside jokes- silly, simple, but ours only. I make sure to give him choices, although the choices are more limited, still. ‘Do you want a Kleenex?’ His choice. ‘Do you want me to help you?’ His choice. He will choose as long as he can, what he can, and then like any mother will, the time will come for me to loosen my grip and let him fly.

-Diane Dennis