When I leaned over her bed to kiss my mom goodbye before leaving the hospital today, she instinctively reached her arms around me to give me a hug. Despite what you may think, this was definitely a big deal. A very big deal. It is the first time since she was hospitalized 6 weeks ago that she could make the attempt. It felt great.
For years, my parents started out every morning giving each other 13 hugs. They count each out loud and then laugh. (There is a private joke involved, started by a hug coupon in a Winnie-the-Pooh greeting card, I believe.) I'm counting on witnessing them doing a modified version of that tradition, without prompting, when my dad can visit her again, probably next Sunday.
My mom laughed today, too. Strange, how the absence of something is often not noted until its return. She laughed reading a friend's letter that begins, "Dearest Friend Who Would Have to Get Some Exotic Disease." (I only saw the salutation when I opened the letter, but whatever else is in there must have been pretty good because my mom chuckled her way through four single-spaced typewritten pages.)
She may not yet be able to walk, but she can laugh again, and hug again, is in the physical rehabilitation center again, and, we hope, will soon be home again.