She looked at her daughter laying in the bed with the slightly scratchy white sheets. She saw the short gray hair and the wrinkled face, but she also saw past that. She saw the face of a nine year old with a bob cut and straight bangs above the eyebrows. She saw the face of her sick little girl, she felt the fear of losing her, and the pain of not being able to cure her.
Blissfully, this time was different. This time she was able to heal her daughter. She was able to give her physical strength. She was able to give her back her mind, her senses, her memories. Everything that life had taken from her, Leta could give back now with a touch of her hand.
With a deep breath, and swallowing the lump in her throat, she reached out her hand. She paused, just before touching LaVerne’s hand. Another breath. And another. Then she slid her hand along the top of her daughter’s. She wrapped her fingers about the palm and squeezed, slowly, gently but with confidence. LaVerne opened her eyes. She lucidly looked into her mother’s eyes. She steadily looked back. The women remained like that for a full minute. Then LaVerne lifted her left hand up a few inches. Leta reached across and took it. She easily lifted LaVerne off the bed. They stood by the bed, daughter and mother, holding hands. Leta closed her eyes, LaVerne did the same.
LaVerne opened her eyes when she could feel the sun on her face. When she could feel the breeze and smell the grass. There were lilac bushes around the house and their scent flowed strongly around the door where they stood.
Leta looked at LaVerne. “Welcome home.” There was nothing more she could say. She could only wait for the questions or the reactions now.
LaVerne took a step. She looked at her feet. Her feet looked the same, one still crippled and small. They felt different though.
She took another step. Like a deer learning to walk. “Come in the house, the others are waiting for you.” Leta said. She still was holding her left hand, and she tugged her in the direction of the door, and into the kitchen.
The women all smiled at her. And even though the women had died before LaVerne was born, all were familiar to each other. With the dying came the knowledge of the family. Of the watching mothers. In life there was a faint awareness in times of strong emotion, but now that awareness burst anew and there was no doubt that these women had been watching her all along.
Abby stepped forward. “We’re all ready for you. We have your place with us ready.” she gestured to the rocking chair. “This is yours.”
“I know that chair.” LaVerne said. She walked towards it. She stopped by its side and did not sit. “I have not stood in so long. This feels good.” She looked at her feet. “I am still crippled though.”
Elizabeth contradicted. “Are you really? Those feet looked like they walked just fine to me.”
“Look at it. It’s still small and bent.” she nodded her head at her foot. The bane of her existence. Still with her, even now.
“I am looking at it. But you are the one who can feel it. How does it feel?” Elizabeth, ever the hard nosed one. There was no room for questioning in her dogma, and the sooner LaVerne started learning, the better.
LaVerne shifted her weight to her right foot. The crippled foot. “It’s…. it’s… strong.” Now she was confused.
“Just because you don’t look whole don’t mean you aren’t whole. It’s always about what you can not see that matters.” Elizabeth waited, but clearly LaVerne wanted more. “Look in a mirror. You look the same. You haven’t suddenly become something that you never were, or something you were long ago. You are still you, but She gave you strength. She gave you back all that really mattered all along. Some of it you had already, some of it you didn’t. She made you strong and whole again, even if it doesn’t LOOK that way to you, it’s true. Your body and spirit are strong, and will continue to grow stronger. You don’t know everything yet, but that’s because you have a lot of life left and ….” She drifted off, she was almost philosophical, but she redirected her thought and reorganized her words. “There is much to learn, and much time to learn it in. You will learn.”
“What she means is that it would be no fun if you knew everything just like that,” Ellen snapped her fingers. “Enjoy it. You have strength and time, you can learn anything you want to. Welcome.” Ellen stood from her chair and waddled over to LaVerne, pulling her into a squishy, comforting embrace. “Welcome home.” she whispered. “We’ve been waiting for you.”