We Need Each Other, After All

Chapter 74

Today, my parents arrived. They need to spend time with me since the hostage event at the hospital. The trauma of the situation has an impact on everyone I love.

My mom is a beautiful woman. She’s always beautiful, even when her eyes are red and puffy from crying. When she cries, I think of Michelangleo’s Pieta.

She enters my house, with Dad at her side. Despite the smile on her face, it’s obvious she’s been crying. Her eyes are demurely pink around their edges, and slightly puffy.

The moment I see the two of them, I start crying too. We hug tightly, the way people who nearly lost each other do; the way people do when they know life can change, and change you, in the blink of an eye.

I think of La Pieta.

Breaking our embrace, I do an assessment.

Mom’s long, pale hair is pulled away from her face with a barrette. Aging, the years only seem to add to her grace: Her once thin face with its high cheekbones, now padded with a few pounds of extra weight, has rounded out along its edges, making her look less fragile; stronger rather than older. I feel reassured by this.

My mom is an artist. She’s had exhibitions in many galleries, and people buy her paintings. Over the years, she’s become quite well known.

Dad has barely changed at all. An exercise fanatic, he’s the same weight he was at 25. He still fits into the suit he wore when he married mom. There’s a few more lines of worry around the corners of his eyes, and a new furrow between his brows. His hair has a bit more silver in it than when I last saw him.

“Maria Nicola,” Mom begins, holding out her arms for another hug. She must have seen me wince at my full name; she pivots: “My Niki,” and then her tears resume. “My God, Niki!”

I step forward and hug her again. “I know Mom, I know. I’m okay, really. I’m okay.”

I’m glad my parents are here. We need each other, after all.