Before my sister’s dad took great photos of America’s trains, he took great photos of my mom. And they’re fascinating to me because this woman bears such little resemblance to the woman I knew after I came into the world some fifteen or twenty years later. And when I leave the ICU at night, I’m thankful he took these photos of her. Because I can come back to her house, which is littered with papers and notes of things she desperately wanted to remember, and look at them. And think of what she was like before this thing in her brain turned each day into a fucking puzzle for her.

And I want desperately to remember that person I knew. Instead of the one lying in a bed with tubes that go into her mouth and nose. And wires and bags and machines around her that beep. I want to see her smiling face, and not the one where she opens her eyes and stares confused and scared at me each time she briefly wakes.

And I want desperately to forget my voice, loud and lonely and strangely reassuring saying, Mom, can you hear me? Mom, you’re in a hospital. Mom, don’t be scared. Mom, can you wiggle two fingers? Hi, Mom.