You Are Beautiful

I was lying next to my mom in my parents' bed a few minutes ago—my left hand stroking her hair, my right hand tracing the lines on her face—while I waited for my dad to finish changing into his sleeping clothes, when I said, absentmindedly and half-joking and mostly to myself, "I wish I had your jawline." She had been given her medication just a short while before and I wasn't entirely sure whether she was even awake or not, but her eyes opened up just enough to reveal their brilliant hue and her lips formed a slow smile and she said, in the gravelly, clipped voice that ALS has given to her, "You are beautiful." I smiled into her eyes with my own, kissed her on the forehead and said, "You are beautiful."

A moment later my dad returned, so I kissed my mom again and gave her hand a squeeze, hugged my dad tightly and wished them both a good night. I'd made it into the living room just outside their door when I heard my mom say something else. I turned around and looked toward my dad with raised eyebrows and asked what was wrong. My dad winked at me and said, "She just said, 'I'm so proud of you.'"