At this stage, the trappings of her life resemble a cross between a gift shop and a medical supply store. She’s surrounded by relics of a life only partially lived in the larger context of eternity.

Figurines line tiny mirrored shelves on the wall above her bed. They represent each of her children and grandchildren, including a tiny son named Daniel who was stillborn in Hong Kong at four or five months old. A picture of the Taj Mahal reminds of the handsome medical student who invited her to be his wife and follow him to India someday. They went to Malaysia and Africa instead.

I watch her sleeping and feel my own life tick away in increments measured by puffs from the oxygen machine. She awakens and lifts her head, looking to see whether she’s alone. I stare into her face and smile—as much for my sake as for hers.

“You’re all right, Mom. You’re not alone. I’m here.”

“You’re real,” she whispers, relieved. Then the inevitable sobs heave upward from her core and out through her mouth. I grab her bent hands and she clings tightly back. Suddenly she stops and stares at the ceiling, eyes wide open, as if she’s watching the movie of her life replay above her.

“Amazing,” she says in awe, and then the sobs return like gentle waves after the eye of the storm passes.

“God is so good,” she whispers between the waves. The words rumble from her throat with conviction.

I press my face into her neck like I did when I was a little girl. I can feel her tears running down my cheeks and mingling with my own. She reaches up and gently works her fingers through my hair, stroking my head over and over the way I stroke my children’s heads to comfort them.

“You are beautiful,” she whispers. “So beautiful.”

She is beautiful. So beautiful.