It’s 6:40 in the morning, and I have been awake since 4 o’clock. I did a little laundry, folded some clothes and finished doing mundane tasks in preparation to leave for Alabama today. I don’t want to go. I know being an adult means meeting and keeping responsibilities. We have jobs, and the children have school. So, we gear up for the 14-hour drive back to our house, leaving my childhood home…and my parents. My father has enjoyed having all his children and grandchildren around. I think it’s made this time a little less overwhelming. He’s a strong man who takes pride in his family. When he comes back from the hospital after spending the night at my mother’s bedside, sleeping on a pull-out bed, it’s nice to see him smile and greet the children. He especially loves picking up his little Sophia Joy, who just watches in bright-eyed amazement when he speaks. Leya, who has been a tremendous help to Dad, will stay until the later part of the month, and I love her for doing so. I would love to stay and spend every day with mom and dad. I would love to make sure mom is progressing and holding her hands on a daily basis. But our jobs and house are 700 miles away. I, for one, am praying that will change to a closer range from my parents.

As children, we think our parents are invincible, but life isn’t an M. Night Shyamalan movie. We grow up and realize they’re just as human as we are and have their own flaws. (That part I’ve never hid from my children. At one point, perhaps I had apologized one too many times, my middle daughter told me that it was okay I wasn’t perfect.) But as human as parents are, they are still bigger than life. My Dad, 67, still gets up early and gets moving before any of us are awake. My mom is still as beautiful as ever, with her full lips and big eyes.

So, I’m going to see mom this morning before I finish packing our things. My Dad is there. He’s spent the night every night since mom moved to her own room. I am pretty sure he will do so on most nights. I love watching him as he affectionately speaks to her and tells her he’s rubbing her feet and arms. I adore listening to him sing to her and tell her he loves her. My father isn’t an overly affectionate or emotional man. But we have witnessed how much he loves my mother.

And I want to see my Mom. I want to hold her hand and touch her face. I want to tell her that I love her and miss her…that I miss making her laugh, teasingly imitate her Filipino accent, watching her kiss my children. I want to tell her that I will move closer as soon as we get the “grown-up” things set, like jobs and houses. I want to tell her that I’ll be back soon to see her. And I know, in leaving today, I have to tell her good-bye. But I’ll make sure that I tell my mother, as I always do after our trips here…As I kiss and hug her tight, as I see her eyes well up with tears, as I revert to a little girl who wants to set aside her independent spirit…Mom, I don’t want to go.