The phone rang at 4:30 in the morning. One shrill ring cut through the unfamiliar darkness of my mother’s house. I reached over to grab the receiver but it stopped ringing. My head, warm from sleep and damp with sweat, pounded in the silence.
I switched on the lamp by the bed and unzipped the black case that hides my meter. I closed my eyes as the screen counted down, not wanting to see the numbers just yet. I wanted to go back to sleep.
My arms like overcooked spaghetti, I spilled from the guestbed in my mother’s house and shuffled into her kitchen, my hands tracing the walls to keep me centered. I switched on the kitchen light and rescued a bottle of juice from her fridge. Poured a glass of dark purple grape juice, tipped it back into my throat. Counting back eight sips, a small bit dribbled out onto my blue t-shirt and left a splotchy reminder.
Back in the bed, I lay on top of the covers and concentrated on the face of a small ceramic doll in the corner of the guest room, locking eyes with it and willing the room to stop tossing like a ship.
My mother poked her head in. “Are you okay? Was that Chris? Did he arrive safely?”
“I’m okay. I’m just low.”
“Oh.” She pushes the door open and steps inside. “Did you have some juice?”
“I did. I’m okay. I’ll come up in a few minutes. Don’t worry.”
“I feel weird going back to sleep now.”
I haven’t lived with either of my parents since I was 20 years old. I share an apartment with my fiance and a few cats, maintaining some semblance of adult life and living independently. Yet a low blood sugar under my mother’s roof sends me back to when I was nine years old.
“It’s okay, Mom. I promise.”
She nods her head and I hear her go back into her bedroom. She leaves her door open just enough.
As I wait for my blood sugar to rise, I understand that despite a career and a wedding and fierce independence, I understand that no matter how grown-up my life may feel, I am still her daughter.
Her worries don’t taper with age.