Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love
my life for this.”
    Pat arrived with another PCA, and they walked in to help Liz up. One of them swung her legs to the side of the bed, while the other stood near the head. I watched from the foot, waiting for instructions. Pat looked at me and said, “She needs to get her legs back. Would you like to walk with her?” Grinning, I moved toward Liz, her smiling face following me the entire way to her side. As Pat held her left arm, I grabbed onto her right, and we worked together to lower her to the ground.
    It was the first time Liz’s feet had touched a floor in almost three weeks, and it was apparent. She stood there for a few seconds, wobbling a bit, as if these were the first steps she was ever taking. I could feel her determination in the grip she had on my arm, and so could Pat, who slowly let go of Liz, leaving me as her only means of support. She took one step, and then another, and then another. She moved tentatively, careful not to take on too much too soon. Slightly hunched at the back, Liz looked down at her feet, letting her eyes control each step. She held her left hand close to the spot from which Madeline had emerged, as if that could keep the contents of her stomach from spilling out in case they suddenly began to do so. The way she was moving made me feel as though we had been transported fifty years into the future: my old lady and me, our feet slowly shuffling on the sidewalk as we strolled down a tree-lined boulevard on a Sunday afternoon, holding hands, both of us silently reflecting on a lifetime of happiness.
    Squeezing her hand, I said, “Hey, remember that time you were on bed rest and I waited on you hand and foot? Well, when we get home I’m just gonna lie in bed and ask you to bring me random shit.” I kept going: “Remember all of those times you made me bring you your toothbrush and the spittoon and how disgusted I was when your toothpaste and spit would end up on my hand? I’m gonna do the same thing to you.”
    She smiled, knowing I was only kind of kidding. “Of course,” she said. To drive the point home a little further, I added, “Seriously. Remember when I had to empty your bedpan? Well, payback’s hell, and you’ll get yours.” She started laughing at this. She knew it had been difficult for me to attend to these personal needs, and I made the jokes, knowing it had been equally uncomfortable for her to have to rely on me for such things.
    We rounded the corner of her bed and made our way to the window. She stopped at the sink to check out the mirror, seeing her face for the first time in a few days. “Jesus. My hair looks like shit.”
    I laughed at her. “Liz, it looks great.”
    Still staring into the mirror, she ran her fingers through her part, and said, “Look at my roots!”
    “Okay. You’ve got a point with the roots. But what the fuck do you expect? You’ve been on bed rest for five weeks.”
    “I’ve gotta see Jeannette and Jennifer as soon as I get outta here,” she said, referring to the team of sisters who cut and colored her hair.
    “Perfect,” I responded. “That means I’ll get more alone time with Maddy. We are gonna have such a tight bond. She’s gonna like me way better than you.”
    Liz suddenly looked away from the mirror and directly at me. “Jerk,” she said in the way she always did, mimicking how my little brother used to say it when he was ten.
    The second PCA left the room, and Pat stood in the doorway holding a wheelchair. I was thankful that Liz was going to get a ride to the NICU, because at the rate she was moving, it would have taken us the rest of the day to get there. “Take one more lap and then we’ll go,” Pat said. We made our way back to the head of Liz’s bed, then toward the door. We reached it, and Liz turned her back to the wheelchair. Still holding my arm, she started to lower herself into the chair. Just before she sat down, she uttered: “I feel light-headed.”
    With those words, Liz went completely limp and

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