You look so gaunt I can't help but stare at your tiny frame. You joke that you're on a concentration camp diet. I'm relieved you still have your sense of humor. I laugh, but I'm also terrified at how breakable you seem. You don't even want to know how much you weigh anymore, because it's in double digits you haven't been since girlhood.
You sleep so much throughout the day that I told the kids: "Abuela is kind of nocturnal."
You keep the TV on most of the time and show no interest in reading -- even the sweet prayer devotional guides one of your best friends sent. You don't watch anything but the Spanish-language stations anymore.
You grimace and wince and close your eyes and rub the parts of your body that ache, that hurt you so deeply you can't even describe the pain.
You wake up after midnight and call out for ice in your cooler, vanilla ice cream, a ham-and-cheese sandwich. It's the least we can do. Whatever you want, whenever you want it, you can have it. We want you to eat.
You come down after much prodding to call your second-oldest grandchild -- the eldest grandson -- for his 12th birthday. Everyone sings, wishes him well, asks about his presents on the speaker-phone. You ask to speak to him privately. After a minute or two, you hang up the phone, your eyes misty, your nose red, and your voice cracking.
"Are you OK?" I ask. You nod, but I know what you're probably thinking: "Is this my last birthday greeting to him?" or maybe "Will I get to see him again?" or "Will he remember this conversation?" Maybe you're thinking something else entirely, but that's what I'm thinking, anyway.
You sing your youngest grandson, my sweet baby, a lullaby in Spanish: "Duermete niño, duermete ya..." It's hard now to hold even a 15-pound four-month old, but you cradle him tightly in your feeble arms, crooning the same song you sang to all of your other grandchildren, and your children before them.
You know he won't remember the song on his own, but I will, and I'll sing it to his children one day too.