After supper tonight, I found her up and about, making her way to bed. We didn’t expect her to be on her feet again after her last bout in the hospital, much less make it to two more graduations. One week to go.

I lifted her feet onto the bed and put her oxygen in place, kissing her forehead.

“This is so you won’t forget me,” I said. The oxygen seems to keep her head clear.

She hugged my neck tightly in the crook of her elbow and murmured, “You are so dear and dear and dear to me. You know that, don’t you? I don’t ever want to forget you. I must not ever forget you. I want you forever.”

“I want you forever, too, Mama.”

“I think we might just make it,” she said impishly. We laughed and laughed.

Taylor, who recently hit 6 feet just in time for graduation, brought Caddie in to say goodnight.

“How tall do you want to be?” I’d asked him earlier.

“Taller than Dad,” he grinned, eyeing Mark. Then we all measured ourselves and made marks on the doorframe. Turns out Adriana is 5’5″—just a half-inch shorter than me. The rest of us have shrunk. We all walked around a little taller and straighter for the rest of the evening, then gathered to tell her good night.

I held my cheek against hers for a long time before leaving. I turned out the overhead light and lingered in the doorway.

“I like to leave this light on in the night,” she pointed to her lamp. “So I don’t get lonely.”

“I know, Mama. I’ll leave it on. You’re never alone.”