Cuddles at Midnight is a short creative fiction piece published in the Eastern Iowa Review, Spring of 2015. The Journal was edited by Chila Woychik. The entire text is available here.
You were so busy today. Quietly working with our visitor. Trying out the bits on your tiny computer, working with your books, listening to what she had to say. I heard so little as I busied myself in the quest to prepare for our move. It was a good day, a quiet day.
You were eager for dinner, eating all I set before you. Talking with me about your day and the things you planned to do. You seemed relaxed as we moved through our evening routine. It was a peaceful day, a good indication of a quiet night to come.
Somewhere in the night, something woke me. I rose to see you sitting on the side of your bed.
Frightened, I sprang from my covers and rushed to your side.
You patted the bed beside you and said, “Sit.”
And, I did.
I remember little of what you said or of what I answered as we sat on the edge of your bed holding hands. You stroked my arm. Hugged me. Even acted as though you were comforting me. For half an hour we talked, as we so rarely do, since your mind slipped away. For that brief moment in time you were lucid, loving, and perhaps even protective.
Eventually, it was time to complete our nightly routine. Lifting you to your feet, I transferred you to our latest equipment addition, a tilty‐whirly wheelchair, for your midnight trip to the bathroom. It didn’t seem wise to return you to bed right away. You were still fully awake, not talking, but certainly aware.
Knowing that without a full night’s rest you (and I) would suffer the next day, I reluctantly gave you the extra pill to help you back to sleep. The doctor tells me that is best.
Just to make sure you were safe, I left you in that new contraption, tilted it back into what appeared to be a comfortable recliner angle, and made sure you were tucked in and covered. I wasn’t ready to let go of the moment so I climbed into your bed, laid my hand across your thigh, and drifted off to sleep.
With the morning light, our world returned, and I wondered at the pain of false hope. Hope that fills my heart during the moments you come so near to who you were. I wonder if the pain is worth the bright and shining moments.
A friend of mine once said, “Even though the hope may be false, the magic of the moment is not.”
That is what I must cling to.
Even when the hope persists in teasing me, I must cling to the magic. And let the hope float gently to the ground as freshly fallen snow.