A Parting Gift Bitter mid-December hospital appointments attended with discretion, letters hidden like feelings between pages, Openness never mentioned, unspoken condensation, Rules forever unbroken, my mother's usual existence. Seasons changed and we welcomed Spring abloom with pointless lithotripsies, Illness in camouflage like the dead leaf butterflies in her magazine, It devoured her without conscience, Cold apple juice counteracted chemotherapy, I thought I saw her ghost at the hospital, Going into the lift to go home, The loud thud of steely doors signalled me to a finality - Her spirit was elevated to freedom. Looking at her body I cried and whispered to her discreetly, so fearful of the emotion like her I chose suppression, my baby lay sleeping inside m and I composed myself in denial. Autumn was dressed in amber bringing Divine opportunity, My daughter was delivered with ease, A parting gift, an apology, For leaving this world unexpectedly. An angel she came through the darkness, Blessed me with strength every day, I promised to nurture with integrity, Support and love her unconditionally, teach her light shines in corners of shame, Such a privilege you never had known. When the mother goes first I dreamed of you again last night, I asked you to etch your face in my memory, fear of forgetting is overwhelming at times, You said love is eternal and can never be forgotten this thought gives me hope on brave days but I conjure you everywhere just in case; in the woman I pass on the street who wears your pink hooded jacket; in the warmth of your grandchild's face, I often spot you through the window of the hairdressers you went to religiously waiting patiently amidst the white noise of dryers, You are the unwanted cinnamon candles dad can't throw out the four-year-old blush lipstick near your inhaler in the cutlery drawer, In some places it's like you never left, in others it's like you never existed, There is no home anymore, only his house- they said that's what happens when the mother goes first. Bio from 2020: Gail Sheridan has been practicing writing as a hobby for the past year. Gail is Irish and is currently living in Waterford, Ireland with her husband and two children. Gail works with women and mothers experiencing homelessness in Waterford and has had a long love of poetry, literature, and language. Gail's writing focuses mainly on the human experience influenced by the world surrounding.