Last night, my brother and I arrived at my parents’ house. Mom was on the couch; Dad was puttering. We all talked for a few minutes and then headed to bed. Dad pointed me to their bedroom, the one Mom has slept in for the past ten years (Dad has a bad snore, and Mom likes to read in bed. So they’ve slept in separate rooms for years.) I sighed and put my stuff in there. This is not about me, I thought.

But I have to admit that the idea of sleeping there was hard. That is my mom’s room, a room that has always been occupied. A photo of my brother and I when we were about 8 and 6 hangs at the foot of the bed. A portrait of my great-grandmother, who my mother resembles so strongly in these days of her illness, hangs by the headboard. The colors are my mother’s favorites – rust, burgandy, a deep purple. I think she even made the comforter herself. This was not my place. And yet, here I was.

I did fall asleep. I did sleep well except for waking up to hear Dad help Mom to the bathroom. (She had opted to sleep on the couch where she felt most comfortable.) But I did sleep. And perhaps there was something divine in that moment for I slept in her air last night.

Now, she is sleeping there, too exhausted from an attempted shower with the nurse’s aid to make it back out to the couch in the living room. Later, we will move the couch into her room so she can breath her own air again.

But last night, the first night of this sacred journey I breathed in what my mother had breathed out for years, and somehow it was just what I needed to take in.