It’s 4:17 a.m.

My mother is dying, probably within the next few hours, and I’m playing Canasta on the computer. There’s no lack of love between us; she’s been my best friend for 70 years. I’m simply putting up a small barricade between me and this moment in time, a few minutes to breathe between the tears. The robotic dealer spits the cards out one by one. I take them as they come, but In this, at least, I can have a small hand in how the cards are played.

I saw her last night at bedtime. I’ll see her again as soon as they allow me at the rest home. She won’t see me. She occasionally startles at a sound, and smiles because that’s how she is, but she doesn’t recognize me as me.

My husband holds me and neither of us can speak. He loves her as I do; after almost fifty years she is his mother, too.

I’ll have to learn to speak of her in the past tense. I’ll have to learn to do without her.