by Jerilyn Dufresne
I smiled before I even opened the door. The two lights on the table were lit, just as they'd been every night for as long as I could remember.
Mom's theory was that we'd always know how much she loved us by looking at the lights. No matter what, those lights were turned on. And no fancy-schmancy, automatic switch. Without fail, when darkness descended, a human turned those lights on.
It wasn't always Mom who did it. Sometimes she was unavailable, but she always made sure the lights were turned on.
I remember the first time she entrusted the job to me. I was all of 16, and she was taking a trip to visit an old friend and wouldn't be back until late. She must have called me three times to make sure I didn't forget. I didn't. It was too important a task, and I felt so grown up being the "one."
Now, I'm home again. My smile faded as I started up the stairs to sit with my mom who would never again walk down those stairs. My tears were a mixture of sad and happy as I felt the warm glow of those lamps accompany me on my journey upward.
"Mom loves me," I thought as I walked. And I straightened up, smiled, and opened her bedroom door, knowing that in my own home my child was ensuring the lights are lit tonight.