Christmas day, she didn’t talk much. And she spent hours pulling at the band on her wrist. Or trying to get out of bed. My sister and I spent the day watching the National Treasure movies and Elf and making sure she didn’t pull out her PICC line.

We left feeling worried and sad. At the elevator, my sister said, “This is the worst Christmas, ever.”

At the house, C had prepared all the familiar dishes. She had music playing. She’d even set out some decorations.

We opened cards. We exchanged gifts. I got drunk.

We did the things we would have done.

Yesterday, she was moved back to the ICU because she wouldn’t wake up. I was alone with her late in the evening when she finally opened her eyes. She smiled at me. I smiled back. And for about thirty minutes we talked and she was more lucid than I’d seen her since it began.

She kept shaking her head. She kept saying she’d made so many mistakes. I said I didn’t think so. I said she’d always been the mom I needed. I repeated that I loved her. She said she didn’t know why she was so…lucky. She cried.

We talked about strength. We talked about fear. We talked about God. I said the things she would have said to me. The things she did say to me. All the time. And it worked. On both of us. She stopped crying. I told her mistakes were what we do. I told her that was life.

At the elevator, when my sister made the comment about it being the worst Christmas ever, she said, “Of course, next Christmas I’ll probably think it was the best.”

I think she’s right.