Stories: Who We Have Lost

Long Hugs

Who did you lose to Covid 19? Susan Wood

I will forever remember her hugs. I don’t like hugs, yet she would always hold on for a few seconds too long. I treasured her warm embrace even then. She would wake me with the smell of bacon on Saturdays, surprise me with toast and gravy. Her cooking and endless generosity was a staple for her home and her radiance.

When I got a puppy, she would bring him inside the house despite my Pa’s wishes so he could lick my face to wake me in the school mornings when I stayed over. She would laugh when I would giggle. She taught me to sew, to love, and to forgive. We made quilts together, and she would frequently take me shopping when I mentioned something I had been thinking about getting.

She was fierce, she was kind. Her love ran deep and was felt by all, and she was the gem of our family. Our matriarch. She defended me when no one else would. She listened to me, loved me, and showed me what it meant to love someone.

Sometimes it feels like she’s just out of reach. Like she’s just in the other room when I visit her home — renamed from Mamaw and Pa’s to Pa’s. It feels like I could call her, but she’s busy right now so I must wait. On days when I miss her horribly, I sleep with the quilt she made me when I was very young. Her special chair sits in the den, moved from the living room.

We shared our final words to each other over the phone, whether we knew they would be the last or not, in the ICU. Her voice was faint and weak. We cried together, and she apologized that she wouldn’t be able to see my dorm once I moved in. She asked me if I had a ride to the hair appointment she made me; I had to get my bangs trimmed.

I told her to focus on feeling better, that she would see my dorm soon enough. That it was going to be dirty for the first few weeks anyways, that she had plenty of time. I had it figured out for now. I told her I loved her more than words. She knew.

I hear her laugh, see her smile. Feel her warmth and her loving gaze, just out of reach. I hope to see her first whenever I join her, wherever she may be.

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