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Nancy sits next to my mother.
I don’t know her personally,
but she looks at me probingly
and says, “Put all your burdens
at the feet of the Lord and
leave them there. The Lord
will take them away,” and
for the moment, at least,
I believe her, even though
most of her teeth are missing
as well as her memory.

You see, her eyes, black as coal,
are steady and shining, with
the light of something glimmering
within and without.

So, I say, “I’ll try to,” to which
she responds, “Yes, I see you will.
And never doubt. The most
important thing is to never doubt.”

I turn my head then, and there’s
my mother, so tiny in her wheelchair,
with hands pressed together in prayer.
Her face, though slack, is smooth, and
her eyes are closed tight, and what
I see is the upturned face of a child
in devotion doing what her mother
instructed her to do long ago:
pray before bedtime, pray upon waking,
pray always. Yes, I see this and,
for the moment, at least, I understand
the purity of this one thing she has
held onto in this home for those
who are slowly, irrevocably
forgetting everything else.

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