I wish that my camera had been ready. But it was so unexpected -- as so many of life's precious moments are. She was having a bad day, oscillating between sleeping, groaning, a few words here and there, and then the nausea. My childhood friend, Kay, was supposed to come and see my mom. Putting my mouth next to her ear, I said, "Kay is here. Do you still want to see her?" I fully expected her to say she wasn't up to it. But she quickly replied, "I want to see her." It had been years, if not decades since she had seen Kay, who was like another daughter when we were young. She and I stayed overnight with each other on a weekly basis.
I met Kay in the lobby and tried to prepare her. With apprehension I led her into mom's room. Just as I was about to lean down to wake her up and let her know that Kay was here, mom suddenly lifted her head. A big smile came over her face and for a moment she looked like her old self. "I would have recognized you anywhere!", she clearly said. Within five seconds she was sleeping again. Then she woke up and began taking with Kay, sharing memories from 45 years ago. Kay left when mom was again nauseated and retching with dry heaves. After she was all settled down, she said, "Where's Kay?" I told her she had to go, and she went back to sleep.
I knew when it happened -- that would be the last big, spontaneous smile I'd ever see on my mom's face. That brief moment was a final glimpse into the spirit of my true mom. I didn't catch it on camera, but I will always remember how beautiful and full of life she looked at that moment.